Warm, stringy mozzarella on pizza… sharp, biting parmesan in pesto… gooey, delicious provolone on a steak sub (sorry, whiz). Cheese is amazing and delicious, and Italy produces some of the greatest cheeses in the world. Here are five that you might not be familiar with but you should definitely try!
This cow’s milk cheese often comes from the Trentino or the Veneto regions of Italy. If it has a “product of the mountains” stamp on the packaging, it was produced at an altitude of over 1968 feet! Like many kinds of cheese, Asiago comes in different versions. If you get it fresh (Asiago Pressato), it has a smoother, sweeter taste. If it is aged (Asiago d’allevo), the flavor becomes bolder, with the most intense flavor resulting from over two years of aging (called stravecchio).
Easily visually recognizable as a “blue cheese” variety, gorgonzola is pungent and has distinct blue-green veins running through a creamy, pale cheese. This cheese has bacteria added to it during production and then it is aged in cold, damp conditions. The result can range from a mild “sweet” variety (gorgonzola dulce) to a sharp “spicy” version (gorgonzola piccante) with a little zing. Even if you think you don’t like blue cheeses, you owe it at least one taste test.
If you like tiramisu, you’re already familiar with this thick, delicious cheese. Made by combining cream and citric acid, mascarpone has a smooth, whipped texture and mild flavor. In addition to sweet dishes like tiramisu, it is delicious in savory risottos, scrambled in eggs, or eaten plain with berries as a light dessert.
This cheese comes from the Rome region and is often compared to its better-known cousin, parmigiano (AKA “parmesan” here in the US). However, pecorino is made from sheep’s milk, not cow’s milk, and it ages fairly quickly. It usually has a salty bite and intense flavor, but there are also regional variations, like pecorino pepato, which includes zesty peppercorns. Pecorino pairs well with a sweet flavor, like fresh fruit, jam, or even honey. It is delicious and would make a great addition to your next cheese board.
This cow’s milk cheese is produced in the Alps and has been made since Roman times. Even Cicero wrote about it. Trust us, it is worth it! Taleggio is a very creamy cheese and is best when fresh. Occasionally it is made with fruit or spices incorporated to give it a slightly sweet flavor.
LET BASTA PASTA TREAT YOU!
For more than 12 years, Basta Pasta has given Maryland diners delicious Italian food from local and fresh ingredients. Enjoy delicious pasta dishes, unlimited salad and breadsticks, and fine wine at one of our locations in Timonium, Fallston, Perry Hall, or Eldersburg. Contact us online or give us a call at the location-specific phone number listed here. Read our menu and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you don’t feel like going out, order our signature crab cakes online and enjoy delicious Basta Pasta from home!