The Angry Chef teases me that if our house were on fire, I’d grab three things: My iPhone, my Totoro, and the cheese bin from the fridge.
I’d also grab the dogs. Silly Angry Chef.
That said, he’s also right.
I have a life-long love of cheese that borders on ridiculous.
As much as I love cheese, trying new kinds can be an expensive and dicey proposition. If you don’t like what you bought, you’re kind of stuck with it.
Thankfully, any cheese shop worth its salt will give you a little taste before you buy.
Take our favorite cheese shop, Formaggio Kitchen.
If you’re ever in Cambridge, MA, definitely stop in.
The place has earned cult status in the area—with good reason.
The cheesemongers there know their stuff, and they carry a mind-boggling array of cheese (as well as other gourmet nibbles, sausages, spices, and wine…).
Plus, they age their own cheese in their very own on-site cave.
How cool is that? (Dear Mr. Formaggio: Can we move in?)
Formaggio Kitchen also has another shop over in the South End.
Four great Italian cheeses to try
This is our third cheese tasting post.
Check out our first two for more cheese inspiration. We sampled goat cheese and blue cheese.
The cheese counter can be a daunting proposition, especially if you don’t really know what you’re looking for.
When it comes to Italian cheeses, here are four great ones you should try if you haven’t.
All four are totally drool-worthy and deserve a spot on your next charcuterie board.
Brenta Stagionato Cheese
Brenta Stagionato is a cow’s milk cheese from the Italian Alps.
It’s slightly sweet and riddled with the tiniest of holes.
Brenta is aged for at least two months—usually four to six—and is generally semi-hard.
(Brenta that’s been aged longer will be harder.)
Fontina Val D’aosta Cheese
Fontina is one of my favorite cheeses. (Bold statement for a mouse, I know.)
It’s also probably one of the most widely known Italian cheeses.
But have you ever had genuine Fontina?
It’s made from raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk, and is aged 90 days.
Genuine Fontina comes from the Val D’aosta region of Italy, up in the Alps. This stuff is the real deal.
It’s nutty, buttery, and kind of sweet. It melts well, but is glorious when eaten out of hand (why it often shows up on dessert cheese plates).
The real stuff puts your run-of-the-mill supermarket Fontina to shame.
Piave is full-bodied cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk from the Piave River Valley region of Belluno, Italy.
It’s a sharp, cheese kind of like Parmesan, and intensifies in flavor as it ages.
It also grates really well.
Use it like you would Parmesan: grated over risotto, to finish pasta, etc.
Taleggio is another great dessert cheese.
Made in the Lombardy region of Italy, Taleggio is a rich, semi-soft cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
When it’s younger, it’s a pale-ish yellow, fairly firm, and milder in flavor.
As it ages, it gets darker, runnier, and totally stinky.
If you want to cook with it, use it in my three-cheese risotto. It’s a-ma-zing.
It’s also a pretty spreadable cheese.
What’s your favorite Italian cheese?
Or your favorite cheese in general, for that matter?
Where do you buy your cheese? Do you have a cheese shop you love in your town?
Leave a comment below, let us know! We love to hear from you guys.