The BelGioioso Family of Cheeses – Part Two – The Hard Cheeses of BelGioioso
April 24, 2009
T Minus Four Days and Counting…You can still vote and comment about whether you think The Lady should take me to Wisconsin by clicking here…cast your votes…
Mathilda, my new love, has voted that I stay in Vancouver and let The Lady do her own thing in Wisconsin. Your caring is causing me great distress…what to do??? What to do??? The Lady says the voting is close and she will continue to review the votes and comments through Monday before she makes her final decision. (I am already packed and ready to go…Mathilda…please understand that if I do go, I shall return to you…you can trust me…)
In 1979 Errico Auricchio moved his family from Italy to the United States with the single goal of making great Italian cheeses in the tradition that his family had honored for over a century.
In Part One, I reviewed Provolone, American Grana, Mascarpone and Fontina. In Part Two, I will review the other Hard Italian cheeses that Errico makes at BelGioioso.
This is a favorite of The Lady. She takes a couple of bones (the rind) of Asiago and tosses them into her marinara sauce to take it to a new level. She has a customer at the kiosk who buys both Asiago and Parmesan bones to add to sauces and soups. This client and his wife are adopting a vegetarian life style and the flavor from the bones helps them make the transition.
Asiago is aged at least five months and has a sweet and nutty flavor. It is made from part skim milk. In 2008 this Belgioioso cheese won third Place at the American Cheese Society Awards.
I give Asiago 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: As mentioned above, toss some of the rind into your favorite marinara sauce or soup for added flavor. This cheese makes an excellent table cheese and is perfect for snacking. Cube this cheese and toss it with pasta. You can top it with crusty Italian bread with charcuterie, artichoke hearts, olives and sprinkle with olive oil for a tasty Italian sandwich. You can shred it on pizza, bagels, breadsticks and broil to melt the cheese. You can add Asiago to dips and serve with your favorite crudités. Grill veggies and sprinkle Asiago on top with a little olive oil. I find that tossing Asiago with a little sautéed Mustela nivalis (not to be confused the two-legged species that populate too many workplaces, particularly the US Congress, according to The Lady…certainly not by this feline…) and it is simply bellissimo.
Wine Pairings: Full-bodies red wine.
Beer Pairings: Nut Brown Ale, Malty Brown Ale
Source: Wisconsin Cows’ Milk
Awards: Several since the 1990s including the Third Place noted above.
Made from skim milk and aged over ten months, this hard cheese is one of the great cheeses of the world. It is used in everyday cooking and also is absolutely the best as a table cheese. The Lady loves to let it sit out for an hour and then serve it with grapes and pears. Like Asiago, it is sweet, buttery and nutty to taste. Even though it is hard, it crumbles well when sitting at room temperature.
I give Parmesan 4 Paws out of Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: The best known sauce is Alfredo and before the diet, The Lady made an Alfredo sauce that brought tears to The Man’s eyes. She tossed pasta, frozen peas (which warm up enough from the heats of the pasta and the sauce and require NO cooking before adding) and julienned Boar’s Head Sweet-sliced ham with her Alfredo sauce. Easy, simple; yet elegant…I miss the good ole days before that damned diet… mix Parmesan into mashed potatoes; top asparagus and bake it; sprinkle grilled veggies; grilled chicken…just about any entrée can benefit from adding Parmesan. With fruit, it makes a terrific light dessert.
Wine pairings: Oaked merlot, Meritage blends
Beers pairings: A Marzen lager
Source: Cow juice
Another hard Italian cheese from BelGioioso that is aged five months and possesses a strong, sharp taste that makes it one of the more popular Italian cheeses. In 2004 and again in 2008, the American Cheese Society awarded BelGioioso Romano cheese First Place – Best of Class. Again, as with most hard Italian cheeses, Romano is a versatile cheese and makes most dishes better when added.
I give Romano 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: You haven’t lived until you have added Romano to your favorite mac n cheese. This cheese goes well in risotto; add it to your bread and pizza dough; melt it on your favorite veggies and add it to your sauces and soups. Again, you can pretty much do anything with this cheese.
Wine Pairings: Full bodied reds
Beer Pairings: Bohemian Pilsner
Source: Here’s a newsflash…Cows’ Milk
Awards: Best of Class 2004 and 2008 – American Cheese Society
I will conclude my reviews of the BelGioioso Family of Cheeses on Sunday.
Tomorrow I will review Beecher’s Flagship Reserve, which The Lady began selling and sampling in the Cheese Kiosk today. She is so in love with this cheese. She brought a piece home for The Man and me. We will have it tomorrow with a glass of appropriate adult beverages and then I will review it.
Mithilda, sleep well tonight and sweet dreams…