When it comes to cheese production the northern part of the country containing Lombardy, Piedmont, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Veneto, and Tuscany pride themselves being the best. Taleggio, from Lombardy is one fo the many this verdant autonomous regions marketed for a long time. Taleggio is semi soft cheese invented in Lombardy. It is now produced in the follwing provinces of Lombardy: Bergamo,Brescia, Como, Cremona,Milano, Pavida, Novara, Treviso and Val Taleggio. Although the cheese was invented there the name is relatively recent. Until around 1900, Taleggio was known as “Stracchino,” which identifies a very popular family of cheeses with square shapes and soft textures, also well known in the Lombardy . The term Stracchino seems to have originated from the Lombard dialect “stracch,” which means tired and fatigued. It refers to the particular physical condition of stress of dairy cow herds reaching the valley after a long stay in the mountains, usually in summer. Because the cows were very tired, their milk produced a light cheese, called Stracchino by the local population.
At the beginning of the last century, cheese producers of this valley felt for the first
time the need to distinguish their quality cheeses from those of adjacent areas and in 1955, Taleggio producers obtained a legal recognition that codifies methods of production and product characteristics. But Taleggio was not included in that nobler and preferred category, “Denomination of Origin.” Only in 1988, a new law finally recognized the importance of environmental conditions and methods of production in determining the product characteristics. In other terms Italian food regualtory agencies finally recognized the improtance of terroir when it comes to food. The wine law had already recognized this fact long ago. Moreover, this decree definitively identifies the production regions of Taleggio, which may only produced int eh rpovicnes mentioned above.
In 1979, the main producers of Taleggio created a consortium to guarantee the
application of these laws and protect Taleggio against imitations.The current methods of production are very similar to the oldest techniques, described in written documents dating back tothe year 1200. The only substantial difference regards the use of selected ferments, introduced to achieve constant and uniform quality and to avoid the high percentage of discarded material typical of the artisan production process.
The first ingredient is whole cow’s milk, usually pasteurized, even though in some areas (Como, Bergamo, Brescia) producers prefer not to subject milk to any heat treatment. In different phases, lactic ferments and liquid veal curd are added. Before the curing phase, the product is brined. Subsequently, Taleggio molds are kept for 25-30 days in very humid environments at 38 to 48 F These are also the environmental characteristics provided by the “casere,’ which are natural grottos still
used by many local producers.
Taleggio’s exterior aspect is that of a quadrangular parallele piped, measuring
about 9 x IO x 2.5 in. It typically weighs about 4 lbs (qpproximately 2 kilograms). The crust is soft and thin, pinkish, and spotted with irregular grayish i-nold. Inside, the cheese is white, soft, compact, and friable. Absolutely typical is its perfume, which is particularly aromatic and pungent when it is cured longer. The flavor is sweet, delicate, and slightly sour in more aged products. Thanks to the presence of moldy substances (yeasts and pennicillinium) on the crust, Taleggio is easily digestible, a characteristic that increases with aging.
Although Taleggio can be enjoyed by itself, it is also part of several gourmet recipes. Its use on hot polenta is simple but very well known, as it melts into a rich and inviting cream. Among the numerous local red wines, Taleggio goes well with wines that are not too old: Franciacorta Rosso, Oltrepo Pavese Pinot Nero,Piave Merlot and Rosso Piceno.
Many manufacturers export Taleggio to North America. Interested parties can obtain this delicisous cheese from specialized cheese mongers in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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