Fifty Best Cheese
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Cheese has been enjoyed for hundreds of years, but only recently has there been a resurgence, enhanced by new artisanal cheese producers from all over the world.


Here are the fifty best cheese classics and newcomers, listed alphabetically from 9 different countries.

 

  Country: Italy  
Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano
Parma, Italy
Italian DOP status, EU PDO

If we were to package humanity's greatest, brightest achievements in a box to represent us for all time, this cheese should be in there. Everything about its history and recipe is a testament to nutritional ingenuity. The make process is one of the most sophisticated in the world, and a pinnacle of efficient cheese making technology. It shows in the flavor, alternately buttery, nutty, fruity, and always saliva inducing. This cheese adds a nuance and depth when grated onto a dish, and is resplendent eaten alone; as a condiment it is third only to salt and pepper, and alone it is the king of cheese. This cheese will be at the top of almost any cheese-monger's list of the greatest.

 

  Country: Italy  

Gorgonzola
Lombardy, Italy
Italian DOP, EU PDO

If you like blue super creamy and sweet, this is for you. Gorgonzola is Italy's contribution to that great constellation of world class blues. Its origins date back to the late middle ages, when the cheese was a specialty of the migration from the higher pastures. Now it's made year 'round. All varieties of the cheese are soft with a unique sweet butterscotch note, so do yourself a favor and skip the cremificato or dulce versions, and seek out the longer aged naturale or piccante. They simply have more flavor.

Gorgonzola

 

  Country: Italy  

Mozzarella di Bufala
Naples, Italy
Italian DOP, EU PDO

This is a rare and special treat. We all know mozzarella; it's one of the most commonly consumed cheeses in the United States. Of course, fresh handmade mozzarella is a huge jump up from the supermarket stuff, and di Bufala a step farther still. Water Buffalo are cultivated around Naples, and now on a few small farms in the US, to make this fabulous cheese. It has a more melting texture and slightly more lactic flavor than even the best hand pulled mozz. Good cheese shops usually stock some of the Italian stuff via air freight. Get some.

Mozzarella di Bufala

 

  Country: Italy  
Calcagno

Calcagno
Sardinia, Italy

So if Parmigianino is the greatest cheese for recipes, what happens when dedicated artisans take the best milk in the world and give it the Parm treatment? Calcagno is what happens! The undeniable power of sheep's milk takes hold of your taste buds. First, it exhibits the sophisticated fruity nuances of grana cheese, and then proceeds to a nutty, meaty finish that can only be described as undeniably sheep. The multitude of subtle aromas and tastes will shift and change in your mouth for full minutes after you eat the cheese. This is one for contemplating till you get lost in the sheer enjoyment.

 

  Country: Italy  

Taleggio
Lombardy, Italy
Italian DOP, EU PDO

The great Italian washed rind, Taleggio is a unique, though mellow, contribution to the style. Think of it as stinky cheese with training wheels. The pronounced aroma will announce its presence; the hearty, buttery, beefy flavor will win over even the cheese novice. Creamy textured and salty, it is a perfect cheese to add to risotto, melt on pizza, or lay on sandwiches, when you want a more flavorful cooking cheese.

Taleggio

 

  Country: Italy  
Robiola della Alta Langa

Robiola della Alta Langa
Alta Langa, Italy

The Due latte Robiolas of this area of Piedmont/Lombardy are like Brie on steroids. The cow's milk gives the cheese body, and the sheep's milk gives it a long finish, but the surface molds and yeasts give it a funky, mushroomy flavor. That, and the unctuous texture, will leave you wanting another bite and a nice glass of Barbera.

 

  Country: Italy  

Pecorino Di Pienza
Tuscany, Italy

Of all the Pecorinos in Italy, those of Pienza are perhaps the greatest. Wonderful when eaten young, they age in a mature balanced way, and never fall to the extremes as other aged pecorinos do. They are studies in subtle power, elegant, nutty, slightly salty, and perfect with some Chianti.

Pecorino Di Pienza

 

  Country: Italy  

Piave
Veneto, Italy

We all know how wonderful Parmigianino is, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. Enter Piave. This is a grana you can eat all day long. The sharp, fruity kick is balanced by a sweet cooked cream taste, and a faint hint of the mountain pastures the animals graze in. Ideal for grating or eating.

Piave

 

  Country: Italy  
Caprino di Foglia Noce

Caprino di Foglia Noce
Piedmont, Italy

The northwest of Italy is peppered with tasty little goat cheeses. The variety of flavors available is astounding, but none quite so astounding as this. A tiny disk of chevre ripening inside a walnut leaf, it tastes like an untouched redwood forest after a soft, cool rain. The texture is almost whipped, and the earthy goat's milk is tempered by the faintest touch of sheep's milk, which adds it's characteristic creamy smooth finish.

 

  Country: United States, Italy  

Ricotta Di Pecora
From anywhere sheep's milk cheese is made

Ricotta isn't technically a cheese, but the process is so similar, and intricately bound up in the cheese making process, that we consider it one anyway. Ricotta is made from whey, the liquid that runs off during the curdling process. In the whey, perfectly good protein runs off, and all it takes to curdle it is a little heat. The best ricotta is made with sheep's milk; its whey has the most complex chemical makeup for an incredible density in the mouth, and more lingering flavor.

Ricotta Di Pecora

 



 
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