Saturday, June 7, 2014

Montebore cheese

As promised, today we are talking about Montebore cheese from the Alessandria area, in Piedmont. This cheese has a very long history dating back to 300 A.D. In 1489 it was the cheese of choice, and also the only cheese served at the wedding of Ludovoco Sforza's son wedding with Isabel d'Aragon. Leonardo Da Vinci who organized organized both the banquet and the single shows accompanying each course, picked this cheese because it looks like a wedding cake! 

Montebore cheese is a certified Slow Food presidium and it's shaped to replicate the Montebore tower by overlapping different size robiola cheeses. 

Here are some facts:
- it's made of 30% sheep milk and 70% cow's milk
- color: white to straw yellow

- the younger Montebore's rind is soft while the matured one is wrinkly
- smooth paste with few eyes
- the cheeses used for the overlapping are robiola cheeses
- the tower shapes reminds of the Montebore's tower
- the ripening time is 6-60 days
- the texture is very soft and elastic in the fresh variant
- in the matured variant the texture is hard, compact and crumbly
- aroma: mild, delicate and milky in the fresh variant; strong, salty and more intense in the matured variant with grassy hues and hints of wood and chestnuts
                                                                                                 Fresh Montebore cheese                                                                                                                                                                                    

Food pairings

You can easily enjoy fresh Montebore cheese on its own on some artisanal bread with honeys and jams, especially the locally produced cugna' - a jam made of wort. 

Aged Montebore is perfect for pastas like ravioli and gnocchi, many kinds of risotto, e.g.: with pears & Montebore, beer & Montebore or pumpking & Montebore!
However, you can include it in as many dishes as you can create because it matches ginger, hot and spicy foods, meats and it also exalts the flavors of vegetable rolls, quiches, salads and soups.

As for the wine: Timorasso DOC is the ideal match!

            Montebore Risotto

A special mention goes to the Montebore sheep, just like the cheese risked extinction in the 1980s, before Slow Food tracked back the original recipe and turned it into a presidium, so the sheep of this tiny area are at risk and can be adopted at distance.

                                                                   Montebore sheep

So, cheese lovers and foodies of the world, mark Piedmont down on your map especially during the yearly events when you can savor this special cheese, like :
- the Timorasso DOC event in Tortona
- Slow Food Cheese event in Bra - next one in 2015
- the Montebore cheese event where you can get to know the Montebore sheep you adopted;)


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