Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gorgonzola Piccante

“Gorgonzola Piccante", a formidable cow’s milk blue cheese from the mountains north of Milan, is Italy’s answer to Roquefort. Its rough, reddish rind protects a tender, light yellow, blue-flecked paste that is firm, moist, and buttery. Unimaginably creamy, spicy and buttery, the flavor is sharp, sweet, and goes on and on, like an echo cascading down the Italian alps. 

There are many tales about the origin of this great cheese from Lombardy, but until the early twentieth century it was known simply as 'stracchino' or 'stracchino verde' - a cheese made from the milk of cattle tired from their long spring and fall treks to and from the Alpine pasture.

One gorgonzola legend that claims an innkeeper in the town of Gorgonzola had too much cheese developing mold on it and questioned whether they were still any good. Unable to absorb the potential loss, he served the Cheese anyway. His customers liked it so much, they had to increase production and give them time to mold. 

A More likely history is that the overall production from the stracca cows was too much milk to hold, so it was made into cheese and stored in caves where they would naturally go blue over time. The method (still used today) starts with producing curd from an evening milking, allowing it to settle overnight and topping it with curd from the morning milking. Cheeses are then pierced to accelerate the veining (referred to as parsley or erborinato) of the Penicillium glaucom bacteria. 

This cheese is at once mild in texture and bold in flavor. Pair Gorgonzola Piccante with a sweet Italian dessert wine.

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