We recently attended a cheese tasting by Ferrari Food & Wine. The tasting event was held at Culinaryon, a great location for food events and cooking lessons. It was well attended with a full house of approximately 50 people, all drooling over the aromatic scents of the different cheeses wafting through the room. We sat patiently as staff came around placing square pieces of cheese in a circular fashion on our plates. The positioning was very important as it matched our map of Italy placemat, which listed all the cheese in a particular order. We were about to embark on a tasty journey that takes us 850 km through 7 beautiful Italian cities featuring 12 unique artisanal cheeses from the various regions.
Something we learned that day was that not every pasta and risotto takes the Parmesan cheese that we are so familiar with. In fact, different parts of Italy uses different types of cheese like Parmigiano or Grana, Pecorino, Provolone or Pasta Follett dried, soaked or dried Ricotta, Canestrato, or Caciotta each serving a different purpose and offering a different taste.
My favourite cheese of all from the afternoon was the Ubriaco cheese, which looked like it was covered with chocolate shavings on the rind part. Those bits are actually the skins, seeds, and leftovers from the wine making process which is used to produce the fragrant, delicate aroma of the wine and complex flavors in the cheese. This type of cheese can be perfumed with wine or overdone with wine. It can also be flavored with whisky or orange peels.
One story used to explain the origin of bathing cheese in wine tells of how people tried to use wine to hide the cheese during wartime. However, the story doesn’t make any sense because wine is more valuable than cheese.
The Ubriaco cheese is made with buffalo milk, which also helps to give it the sweetness. The Prosecco base makes it sweet, creamy and very pleasant. It’s great for risotto, giving it an appealing aroma.
Many different ingredients can penetrate the cheeses to give it perfume and flavor. Another Ubriaco we tried was one that has been matured with Fior d’arancio wine and orange peels. It only has a hint of blue cheese, so it’s less sharp than what we are used to from blue cheese. Eating it with a bit of orange peel was just perfect.
While I don’t consider myself an expert on cheeses after just one tasting, I can say that I have a greater appreciation for artisanal cheeses and it’s all thanks to Giorgio Ferrari and his team.