I love cheese, so much so, that I was counting down the days to this event. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful pre-spring day and I was looking forward to meeting up with some of the cheese makers I met last year. Walking around the manicured garden of Villa Braida in Mogliano Veneto, we took our time going from one room to another, filling up our bellies on delicious items. There wasn’t just cheese featured here- oil, balsamic, breads, rice, pasta, aged sardines, salumi and, of course, wine and beer to help wash it all down. On the second floor, after a quick hello to our friends at Morgana beer, filling up our glasses with the cool, slightly peach tasting, red colored drink, we ran over to my favorite cheese maker, Salicella. Buffala mozzarella is their specialty and boy does it taste great. Large or small pieces, stuffed with prosciutto and olive or just sliced and topped with a drizzle of oil, there is nothing like it. Maybe it’s that this cheese is so simple and delicate, floral and light in smell, soft and creamy in our mouths, that it can be used in a variety of Italian dishes and is typically a center piece on my table. I bought a few pieces and hit the rest of the tables. Casale Nibbi, an organic producer, offered an interesting cheese- an aged Stracchino. With the outside covered in mold, it’s smell and taste were something to get used to, but definitely something different for the cheese aficionado. Another important cheese to Italy is the Parmagiano Reggiano. Caseificio Gennari follows tradition, aging it with a black outer shell, once ash, making the cheese crumble easier and leaving a saltier and lighter taste. They also make a marscapone- like desert, covering the block of cheese in either crumbled ameretto cookies or slices of dried apricot. We bought some other types of cheese from Luigi Guffanti, a producer located just north of Milan. With a large variety of cheese, we found the Gorgonzola Piccante to be one of the best and took a piece to have at home along with an aged Toma and a Bitto, a semi-fresh cheese made from the milk of cows who live freely in the mountains. Gorgonzola, they say, was created after a man who left the cheese in a cave, while running after his love whom he met in a city far away. Returning home, he found that the cheese had turned blue and the taste was more pungent and sweet than before. A ‘piccante’, or spicy version of this cheese, compared to the ‘dolce’ or sweet, just means that the blue is stronger and has more of an impact. It lasts longer, is less pasty and is incredibly good! Getting full, we stopped at another friend, Birra del Nani, to drink his #3, a Belgium White beer with hints of orange and coriander. Along with our refreshment, we sat outside, taking in the sun, content and full of cheese.
Italian Wine Tours and TastingsLet us take you to the beautiful Italian countryside, among rolling hills and endless vineyards, to taste some of the worlds best wine (read more....)