Friday, July 11, 2014

Gorgonzola DOP: a therapeutic cheese

Gorgonzola cheese is among the oldest blue veined cheeses, it takes its name from a small town near Milan;  today's main production area is in the Novara area, in Piedmont which makes of it, the most famous dairy product of Piedmont world wide!

Gorgonzola cheese

A bit of history

The first records of this cheese date back to the 7th century when it was generally known as green stracchino cheese. Then, it took the name of Gorgonzola from the small town in the Milan area; today's main production center is in Piedmont. The Gorgonzola producers' association was born in 1955 and it counts over 100 producers and each wheel gets branded.

As it happens in many cases, the greatest products are the result of a mistake and gorgonzola isn't an exception. In fact, the legend has it that a shepherd who didn't have the right milk tools and who longed to see his girlfriend, picked a basin to contain the curd of tired - stracche in the dialect - cows' milk that had just left the pastures. When after a few months he came back to the mountains, he found a stracchino cheese with molds. So he decided to sell it anyway and people liked it a lot as it was spicy and delectable.
This new cheese took the name of Gorgonzola as it was first produced near that town and many stracchino producers had to increase production and allow extra time to mold to satisfy the market request.

"A more likely history is that the overall production from the stracche 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 now pierced to accelerate the veining (referred to as parsley or erborinato) of the Penicillium glaucom bacteria."

Gorgonzola Dolce

Gorgonzola comes in two varieties:

- the most common is the "dolce" or sweet
- the rarest one and also the original one is "piccante" or spicy. Today's customers like it less as it's stronger

They are both traditionally served with pickled fruit, Novara style polenta and honey.

Gorgonzola facts

- it's a DOP (Designation of Protected Origin) cheese
- it's a soft cream or crumbly blue cheese
- it ages 3-4 months
- color: white to straw yellow with distinctive blue-green mold veining
- flavor: young gorgonzola is sweet and mild and it gets stronger as it agres
- aroma: nutty
- milk: cow's skimmed milk
- rind: uneven, wet and reddish when it's mature

Tortellini with Gorgonzola & Mascarpone sauce
Gorgonzola pairings

Gorgonzola can be eaten alone with some bread for a quick snack or it can be included in many dishes.
In the Piedmontese tradition it's a faithful companion to polenta together with a good full-bodied red wine
You can also add it to soups, salads, sauces, main dishes, salad dressings, or at the end of your meal with pears, grapes, apples and honey as a dessert.

As far as wines, you can pair it with a Barolo or Barbaresco. Raisinated Moscato is also a good match among the white wines.

Gorgonzola Piccante

Gorgonzola a therapeutic cheese

Everybody knows how Italians take food as seriously as a medicine but back in the middle ages, in the Milan valleys, Gorgonzola was also used to cure gastrointestinal problems!
In fact, people had noticed how the Gorgonzola makers were always in perfect health and this was due to the molds and the milk ferments, similar to the yogurt ones. As for the the molds being from the penicillin family they acted as an antibiotic.

In Italy, gorgonzola is produced only with the milk of cows raised in the DOP area to guarantee its quality and that it's pesticides and antibiotics free.
Compared to other cheeses, gorgonzola is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins and it contains a lower percentage of fats. Moreover, Gorgonzola is lactose free because of the triple milk fermentation, so really, anybody can enjoy it :P

Gorgonzola ice-cream

Yes, in Italy we make gelato with virtually anything, cheese and wine included, like this gorgonzola ice cream with pieces of pear and walnuts

No comments:

Post a Comment