Grana Padano straordinario

grana padano
Grana Padano – a belittled cheese.

Just accept it, Grana Padano does not receive the accaims it deserves. As far as I know, this is Italy’s most bought cheese, and with a longer history than Parmigiano Reggiano. I frequently use Grana Padano when I need cheese for grating being it risotto or some paste dish. I do not know how it is in your market, but where I live the cheese is overpriced. Too close in appearance to Parmigiano Reggiano, so there is a gamle the consumers regard it as a Parmesan and it is priced accordingly. But still, somewhat cheaper, without that influencing my choice. It’s about variation. And it’s a good cheese.

Les mer

Some cheeses from Savoie

I suppose there are more people who have been to the Savoie region for skiing than looking for cheese. In my opinion it should have been the other way round, even though skiing is fun. I prefer downhill to cross country, by the way.

Funny enough, I have never been to this region, apart from Annecy. A wonderful town worth visiting just ab hour’s drive or so from Genève. This is a lack I have decided to correct sooner rather than later.

Well known cheeses from Savoie

. There are some cheeses we all know, such as Beaufort. In my opinion this is the best alpine cheeses there is, especially the Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage. It does not get any better than that. This cheese disappears very quickly from my fridge at least, if it ever reaches so far. Cheese, some dried ham, for instance the French Noir de Bigorre, country bread and a bottle of wine. Choose a mature cheese 18 to 24 months and you get the fine sweetness the alpine cheese is so famous for. Ask your favourite cheese monger.

If you think Beaufort is above your budget, Abondance might well be an alternative. matured from three to nine months and comes with a very chareacteristic concave side. So does Beaufort, but less characteristic than Abondance. Rind is very hard, but beneath there is a fruity semi hard cheese with hints of nuts.

On the soft side there is always reblochon, this mild washed rind cheese made at the mountain farms. It can also be industrial, so look for the “Fermier” sticker. Then you have a cheese that is made according to tradition often using wooden vats. This is the cheese used for the Tartiflette dish. If you have not had it yet, it is time to try. I am afraid I only have a Norwegian recipe, so you have as Google for help. It is a healthy dish, so perhps not a summer night, more for the darker and cooler autumn evenings.

Looking for something more rustic? Then Tommed e Savoie is an obvious choice. Farmstead, everyday cheese that originally was made from skimmed milk, because they used the milk fat for butter which was way more valuable. Today it is one of a few cheeses with protection that can be made from more than one type of milk, when it comes to fat content that is. Whole milk, skimmed milk or something in-between.

The not so known cheeses from Savoie?

I depends on how familiar you are with cheeses from the Savoie. But for most of us there are many cheeses from the region that we do not know. I am not going to go through all of them, but I will start with one that was among the first cheeses I bought after I had started OSTEPERLER.NO. It is called Tomme Crayeuse. Crayeuse means chalky. Exciting aromas, moist earth, straws and butter, but also with a hint of citrus. Creamy texture. You should try it.

Tomme Crayeuse med et glass hvitvin, f.eks. Chignin Vieilles Vignes fra Savoie. Foto: Gunnar Bløndal

Tome des Bauges is a pressed, semi hard cheese, which can be made from either whole milk or semi skimmed milk. So there is another one. Rind is thick, dark and rough, covered with mould often referred to as “cat hair”. The paste is ivory coloured with a few scattered holes. Comes in small wheels so it is possible to buy a complete wheel whithout being ruined. A very tasteful cheese that has been made in the Bauges valley for a long time.

Some washed rind cheeses

Abbaye de Tamié is as the name suggests a monastic cheese from the abbey L’abbaye de Notre-Dame de Tamié close to Albertville. From the Bauges area this as well. Wrapped in paper with an easily recognisable blue print with a Maltese cross as some kind of logo. Rind is almost saffron yellow while the paste is towards beige with a smooth and creamy texture. A few holes. Pleasant aroma and flavour. Delicate and fruity.

I have written about Manigodine before. Hails from the farms around the village of Manigod, not so far from Annecy. A fabulous cheese with a belt to keep the form. matured by Joseph Paccard. Manigodine is a woman from Manigid, so the name of the cheese is a tribute to all the female cheese makers in the area.

You might not have heard of Moelleux du Revard? Comes from a rather smakk dairy in the small town of Trévignin just outside Aix-les-Bains. Tasteful and well worth trying.

Many more cheeses

savoie
Galet de Chartreuse

There are many more cheeses, but I will leave you with a couple of chèvres from the area. Besace de Savoie has a somewhat crumbly texture with fragrances of herbs and mountain flowers. As it matures the taste gets more mellow.

Galet de la Chartreuse  is made by the Branche family byu the d’Aiguebelette lake. It is barrel shaped. A soft chèvre this, but through being dried it acquires a very hard texture. However crumbly it may be, in the mouth it becomes smooth as cream and soft butter. Nice saltiness and with a heavenly taste. With that name like that I suggest you try along a glass of Chartreuse V.E.P. (Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolonge).

So, there we are with quite a lot of cheeses being left out. Not so good that lot? Not at all. It is just they are too numerous to mention them all. I suggest you go hunting cheese gems from Savoie, there is a lot to find.

Sommersnø – new Norwegian chèvre style cheese

Sommersnø, new Norwegian cheese from Lofoten ysteri

Been looking for this one for a short wile, without being able to track it down. I salute more chèvre style cheeses are being made in Norway, so Sommernø is most welcome. As far as I know this is the latest addition to the family coming from Vestvågøy in the oh so exotic Lofoten islands up north. The farm is right before the narrow road ends by Unstad beach. The North Atlantic next.

I am not saying we have a lot of chèvre style cheeses in Norway, but we’re slowly getting there.

Sommersnø, fine rind with blue rosettes.

Sommersnø

The cheese has a fine off-white Geotrichum rind, easily detected by the wrinkles. Furthermore, the paste is slightly runny just underneath the rind. You find out when you cut the cheese. It is rather common for this type of cheese, especially if thew Geotricum is running kind of wild. It is charming in my opinion. I got hold of two cheeses and I notice a few blue rosettes on the rind of one of them. If you think that is scary, I cab assure you not to worry. French affineures will work hard to make them grow, buy the way. The paste is white, typical for goat milk cheeses.The name Sommersnø means “summer snow” by the way. A very appropriate name, but give me some chills as I am not that fond of winter and snow.

Tasting and pairing

Mild and gentle flavour, milk, fine acidity as often is the case for these rathe fresh goat milk cheeses. Pleasantly salted, it is there but it does not dominate. This is a typical Sauvignon blanc cheese if you’re in for a glass of wine. it is a Dutch family running the farm and dairy, so perhaps Genever is a suitable accompaniment?

Small production?

I do not know exactly, but I believe the production of this cheese is rather small, so it’s rather exclusive. After all they have other cheeses to make as well and not hoards of goats. Consequently it might be hard to get, or it was just me having a hard time getting hold of it. Worth looking for, though.

Caciocavallo – South Italian Horse Cheese?

Caciocavallo belongs to a group of cheeses not readily available outside Italy. To formally put it into place; this is a pasta filata cheese, just like the very available mozzarella and provolone. But that’s about all similarities there are. Like the other cheeses within this family, it hails from south Italy, particularly along the Apennine mountain range. It has to be said that most of these cheeses are pasteurised, but a few honorable exceptions can be found. Naturally, I will write about these, each special in their own right.

A bit about the name caciocavallo

As it is, it actually means horse cheese. At least it is one of the interpretations, not insinuating the cheese has anything to do with horses. Normally made from cow’s milk, but varieties made from both ewe, goat and in rare cases buffalo milk, do occur. All these special varieties are pasteurised, though. Since we have touched on the etymology, it seems like the name derives from the fact that two cheeses were tied to a rope and hung over a pole for maturing. Just like saddling up a horse. Of course it could be they hung cheeses over the horseback as well when they were out riding – for picnic or something.

CACIOCAVALLO PODOLICO

A very special cheese this since it is only made from milk from the Podolica cow. This is a south Italy indigenous cattle race, not to be found anywhere else. A very hardy cattle living outside all year round grazing with no additional feed. bring it inside during the harsh winter months is of no use, it is too warm, so they’ll escape outside. Te cheese is made from raw milk from this race in the areas of Calabria, Basilicata, Campania and Puglia.

The Caciocavallo Podolico are kept in limestone caves for maturation. After three months you have a fine cheese with a golde rind tasting nice, but are mostly for the impatient consumers, or if you wish to use it for cooking. The cheese is actually frequently used for cooking in that area. If you care to wait, you will be in for quite an other experience. After two to three years we’re talking. Colour is ochre. Texture is firm and you break loose small pieces of the cheese with the handy parmesan knife pictured above. Flavour is savoury, herbs and barn. Just wonderful the flavour. This is a cheese rarely sold outside of the area where it is made. So if you want to dig into this one, you probably have to go there. Probably well worth the tour. By the way, the cheese has status as a Slow Food Presidium in Basilicata.

CACIOCAVALLO PALERMITANO

As the name indicates we have moved further south, to Sicily. A lot of fine cheese here, Caciocavallo included. The cheese comes from the many small hillside farms in the south to southwestern part of the island. Made of raw cow’s milk this as well, but otherwise very different from the mainland varieties when it comes to shape and size. The Sicilian variety is rectangular like a huge bar weighing from eight to fifteen kilos. Shorter maturing time as quite a few are eaten fresh, while others get anything from two to twelve months in the maturing room.

For both there cheeses there are a couple of things that unite them, apart from the first part of their names.

Traditional Cheese making

They are both made using traditional cheese making equipment, meaning wood. being it vats or ladles. In Sicily they use wooden moulds, tavuleri, in the local language to give it the rectangular shape. Being made the way they are gives the cheeses some special features like the Caciocavallo Podolico is known for containing high amounts of Omega 3. That’s about the cattle breed and the pastures they feed on and of course the cheese making keeping all the good stuff unspoiled. As far as Caciocavallo Palermitano is concerned that also means no starter culture is added. Mother Nature and wooden vats take care of that. Perhaps slightly technical this, but this is how it was done during the old days, and we have survived. Really strange that is, don’t you think?

A note of caution. When in Sicily you need to ask your way to the real cheese. It is a popular cheese and some have taken the liberty to create a few short cuts. That means using ultra modern cheese making methods, aka all steel and high producing milking cattle hardly seeing any sunlight at all. You won’t get the same tasting experience.

To drink

These are both cheeses that require red wines with body. Generally it can be said that reds made from Nero d’Avola or Aglianico will pair very well.

Valuable sourceNyttig kunnskapskilde: The Oxford Companion to Cheese. (Oxford University Press – 2016)