Italian cheese - notes etc.

This time we wanted to ask the experts about Italian cheese so we asked John at Salvos Italian restaurant in Headingley and sought out an Italian cheesemaker direct!

The first four are from Salvos

1. Pecorino sardo, also known as fiore sardo, is a firm cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia, made from sheep's milk - specifically from the milk of the local Sardinian breed of sheep. It was awarded Denominazione d'Origine status in 1991 and granted Protected Designation of Origin in 1996.

2. Taleggio has been around since Roman times. It is mentioned by Cicero and Pliny the Elder in their writings. The cheese was solely produced in the Val Taleggio until the late 1800s, when some production moved to the Lombardy plain to the South. Soft, tasty, rich, this is one of Vickie's favourites..

3. Ricotta Mustia is a classic ricotta – so it is made by heating whey until the proteins coagulate and then it is left to settle, then this one spends around 24 hours in the smoker where it is smoked with aromatic herbs. Then it is ready to eat... fresh, smoky and smooth.

4. Piacentinu is a cooked, semi-hard sheep's milk cheese, round in shape and available in various ages. Traditionally, it is made in the province of Enna, Sicily, using whole sheep’s milk, pepper and saffron. Although the name of the cheese may lead you to believe that it is produced in the city of Piacenza, the word piacentino” derives from a word that means enjoyable in Sicilian dialect, or possibly from piangentinu, or a cheese that crys, referring to the tears of moisture that drip off the cheese when opened...

The second five were from the L'Antica Cascina

L'Antica Cascina are a small cheesemaker in the North East of Italy. Nick met them at the International Cheese Awards back in July. They were so passionate and the cheese was so good, we decided to import some of their cheeses... most of these are rare in the UK.

5. L'Ulivo is a sheep's milk cheese that, once made, is packed into terra cotta pots with olive branches and leaves from the region of Brisighella – the cheese undergoes a unique ripening process which gives the cheese a delicate, sweet, flavour with the aroma of olives.

6. Cacio Faenum is a sheep's milk cheese that has been ripened in wooden barrels with fresh cut hay. The hay imparts a fresh, grassy tone which brigs out the flavour of the cheese.

7. Il Tartufaio is a semi-soft cow's milk cheese that is infused with slices of truffle giving it a rich, creamy quite 'yangy' taste.

8. La Tenerina was originally developed to make a sheeps milk cheese that children would like, this has already got some grown up fans – winning a Gold Award at the World Cheese Awards this year.

9. Gran Cru Di Grotta is the result of a huge investment by the chesemakers in renovating and refurbishing 18th century cellars in the Grotta di Villa Corte in Brisighella. The cheeses are stored in racks, and develop a rich, crumbly texture and a hard rind which goes from a deep yellow, to a dark brown. 

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