Discovering Asiago cheese

Uncovering the Extraordinary Story of Asiago Cheese

When it comes to excellence in the world of cheese, one name often stands out in the crowd. Asiago, a semi-hard cheese that hails from the Italian Alps, holds a unique spot within the dairy industry, admired by turophiles worldwide for its complex yet mild flavor, versatile culinary usage, and rich cultural history.

Asiago cheese owes its distinct taste to its high-quality raw material, the milk of cows that feed on the lush, unpolluted pastures of the Asiago Plateau, located in the Veneto and Trentino regions of Italy. The plateau’s unique ecological conditions, marked by a cold and often harsh climate, imbue its dairy products with their characteristic traits. This cheese, produced in two distinct varieties – Asiago Pressato (fresh) and Asiago d’allevo (aged), varies in taste, texture, and look based on its aging process. Pressato, aged briefly, sports a smooth, creamy texture and light, sweet flavor; while the d’allevo type carries a firm texture with a sharp, complex flavor, matured over several months or even years.

  • Asiago Pressato: Delicate and sweet, bearing milky, tangy notes, with a soft, creamy consistency.
  • Asiago d’allevo: Has a firm, crumbly texture and exquisite tastes, ranging from sweet and slightly sharp when young to nutty and full-bodied when fully matured.

This magnificent cheese carries Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status since 1996, which dictates that authentic Asiago cheese can only be produced in its native regions using traditional methods. What’s even more fascinating is the clear traceability of Asiago cheese. Each wheel is marked with a unique Consortium mark, a dairy number, and the month of production, allowing consumers to trace it back to its origin. Indeed, Asiago stands as a testament to Italy’s rich culinary heritage, displaying a flawless harmony of taste, texture, and authenticity.

Discovering Asiago Cheese: Test your knowledge!

Welcome to our quiz on Discovering Asiago Cheese! This quiz aims to test your familiarity with this well-known Italian cheese, and its long history of production. Are you ready to challenge your knowledge on Asiago cheese? Start now!

Unveiling the Unique Quality Attributes of Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese is a rich and savory Italian cheese that food aficionados worldwide cherish for its unrivaled flavor profile and versatile culinary applications. Notoriously known for its origins in the distinct mountainous region of Asiago in the Italian Alps, this cheese is carefully aged and cultivated to deliver a flavorsome punch that distinguishes it in the global cheese landscape.

In terms of sensory appeal, Asiago boasts a diverse portfolio due to its variety, namely Asiago Pressato and Asiago d’Allevo. Asiago Pressato is a fresh variety, soft and creamy in texture, with a mildly sweet taste and an alluring pale yellow hue. The latter, Asiago d’Allevo, can further be categorized into Mezzano, Vecchio, and Stravecchio, depending on the maturation period. As the cheese ages, the texture transforms from soft and pliable to firm and grainy, and the flavor intensifies from a subtly tangy to a robust, full-bodied taste. This dynamic flavor evolution of Asiago makes it a pleasure to explore on a cheese platter or as a cheese course in haute cuisine.

Recognizing quality Asiago lingers around two key elements: Designation of Origin (DOP) seal and physical attributes. Asiago cheese carrying the DOP seal assures that the cheese has passed stringent standards and hails from the protected geographical region of Asiago. This guarantees its adherence to traditional cheese-making methods incorporated by expert Italian cheese artisans. As for physical attributes, top-grade Asiago cheese should have a uniform color, devoid of any off-color dots or cracks, and a pleasant, captivating aroma that attests to its freshness and quality contro

  • Asiago Pressato: Creamy texture, mildly sweet, and pale yellow
  • Asiago d’Allevo – Mezzano: Semi-firm texture, slightly sharp
  • Asiago d’Allevo – Vecchio: Firm and grainy, more pronounced flavor
  • Asiago d’Allevo – Stravecchio: Hard texture, full-bodied flavor, reminiscent of Parmesan

Whether grated over pasta, served as a garnish on soup, or enjoyed as is, Asiago cheese promises an indulgent gustatory journey carved out of meticulous aging and craftmanship. With its hearty flavor and distinguished quality attributes, Asiago cheese undeniably carves a proud spot in the world of gourmet cheeses.

The Exquisite Qualities and Variety of Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese, named after its place of origin in the Asiago Plateau of Northern Italy, has been a culinary delight since as far back as the 10th century. This semi-hard cheese, noted for its rich texture and distinct aromatic presence, is a favorite among gourmet chefs and cheese lovers alike for its incredible versatility, depth of flavor, and high nutritional value. With its delectable spectrum of mild to sharp flavors, Asiago cheese is truly unlike any other cheese in the world.

Asiago cheese falls into two broad categories: Asiago Pressato (‘pressed Asiago’) and Asiago d’Allevo. While both styles are produced from cow’s milk, they diverge significantly in their production processes, leading to distinctive flavors, textures, and properties. Asiago Pressato, which is a fresh cheese made by heating the curd to 45°C before being pressed, features a mild flavor with a soft, creamy texture. In contrast, Asiago d’Allevo is aged for 30 days up to 9 months to be called ‘mezzano’, and over 1 year for ‘vecchio’, resulting in a denser texture with a more pronounced, sharp flavor.

Asiago cheese possesses a high nutritional profile, as it is rich in proteins, calcium, and vitamins, including Vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid – a fact that’s great news for health-conscious cheese lovers. Additionally, based on the aging process and the type of feed ingested by the dairy cows, the cheese may also contain varying traces of nutrients such as vitamin B12, phosphorus, and zinc. All of these nutritional elements contribute to the broad spectrum health benefits offered by this cheese. This cheese also pairs well with a wide range of flavors, including fruits, nuts, artisan bread, and even dark chocolate, making it an essential feature on any cheese plate, gourmet recipe, or wine tasting event.

  • Asiago Pressato: Fresh version with a mild taste, soft, creamy texture.
  • Asiago d’Allevo (Mezzano and Vecchio): Mature versions with a more pronounced flavor and crumbly texture.

Facts and figures

  • For starters, Asiago cheese originates from the Asiago plateau in Italy.
  • Interesting to note, Asiago cheese has been granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.
  • In terms of production, about 2 million wheels of Asiago are produced annually.
  • On a nutritional note, Asiago cheese is high in calcium and vitamin B12.
  • Regarding consumption, Asiago cheese is popularly used in salads, pasta, soups, and sandwiches.
  • Surprisingly, Asiago d'Allevo, a type of Asiago cheese, can be aged for two years or more.
  • Lastly, the Consortium for the Protection of Asiago Cheese ensures the quality and authenticity of Asiago cheese.

The Intricacies of Asiago Cheese Production: Highlighting its Country and Region of Origin

Asiago cheese, a beloved Italian dairy product, is a delicious testament to the rich, varied heritage of Italian cheese-making. Originating from the Asiago Plateau in the Veneto foothills in northern Italy, this cheese is celebrated for its creamy flavor and varying textures. However, what sets Asiago distinct from its Italian cheese counterparts is its unique geography-centric production criteria and processes.

Asiago pertains to two types of cheese: Asiago Pressato (fresh Asiago) and Asiago d’Allevo (matured Asiago), each bearing unique characteristics. Asiago Pressato is a lovely, sweet, and smooth cheese aged for only 30 days, while Asiago d’Allevo has three stages— Mezzano (4-6 months), Vecchio (over ten months), and Stravecchio (over two years)—characterized by a firm but crumbly texture and robust, slightly piquant taste. Such sensory complexity is largely a function of the high-quality cow’s milk derived from the area’s lush Alpine grass, the traditional cheese-making techniques passed down through generations, and the aging process, all shaped by the region’s unique climatic conditions.

The region of production for Asiago is strictly delineated and protected under EU law. Asiago cheese is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, meaning it has to be produced, processed, and prepared in a specific geographical area using recognized know-how. According to the Consorzio Tutela Formaggio Asiago, the consortium governing its production, Asiago can only be produced in the provinces of Vicenza, Trento, Padova, and some parts of Treviso.

  • The importance of region in crafting Asiago extends beyond geographical boundaries and is deeply entwined with cultural heritage and maintenance of quality. Given these stipulations, the consumer can trust that any cheese bearing the Asiago PDO seal is indeed the real deal—endorsed for its authenticity and premium quality, delivering the genuine taste of Italian tradition.

Delighting Palates with Dynamic Asiago: Its Best Served Forms

Asiago, the hearty and robust cheese straight from Italy’s Veneto region, is known for its remarkable capacity to elevate any dish it graces. However, to truly relish the full flavor profile of this sumptuous cheese, it’s crucial to know the best presentations, be it aged or fresh, crumbled on a dish or melted on a toast.

Asiago can be quite versatile, depending upon its age. The younger, ‘Asiago Pressato,’ is marked by its sweetness and slight tang, best enjoyed in its simple raw form cut into thin slices paired with fruits like pears, figs, or apples or grated onto fresh salads. More adventurous cheese-lovers might try it melted within a gourmet sandwich or atop a crisp bruschetta, accompanied by quality cured meats.

Further along the cheese’s maturation, we find Asiago d’Allevo. A medium-aged Asiago d’Allevo, often referred to as ‘Mezzano,’ boasts bitingly sharp and nutty notes ideally balanced when shaved thin over hearty pasta dishes or risottos. More matured variants, Vecchio and Stravecchio, can be delightfully potent, often grated generously onto heavier meals, almost akin to Parmigiano-Reggiano, or paired with a full-bodied red wine for an indulgent cheese and wine session.

– Asiago Pressato: Enjoy in its raw form or melted within gourmet sandwiches
– Asiago d’Allevo(Mezzano): Shave thin on pasta dishes or risottos
– Asiago d’Allevo(Vecchio and Stravecchio): Grated onto heavier meals or paired with a full-bodied red wine

What truly sets Asiago apart is its astounding versatility and an impressive range of flavors that evolve with its age. Whether it’s served fresh in a summery Caprese salad or aged to perfection and grated onto a winter’s comforting lasagna, Asiago stands as a testament to the time, art, and intricate craftsmanship involved in cheese-making. It’s the perfect cheese for those willing to explore the myriad flavors that quality cheese brings to your plate.

Proper Storage Techniques for Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese, a product from the Veneto and Trentino regions of Italy with a distinct flavor profile depending on its ageing process, demands specific storage conditions for optimal taste and texture. With the right methods, you can keep your Asiago tasting fresh and delicious for a long period.

Just purchased fresh Asiago? It’s best to consume it within a couple of weeks. If you must store it, wrap in parchment or wax paper. Then, place it in a loosely sealed plastic bag into the fridge’s cheese drawer or vegetable crisper—these areas have high humidity, which prevents the cheese from drying out.

As Asiago ages, it becomes more granular and crumbly, with a stronger and sharper flavor. This aged variety, often referred to as Asiago d’allevo or Asiago vecchio, can be stored a bit differently. To minimize moisture loss, wrap in foil and store in the least cold part of the fridge. Do not worry if a bit of mold appears on the surface; it can be easily scraped off without affecting the taste.

  • Optimal temperature range for storing Asiago: 35-45°F.
  • When storing in the fridge, always keep the cheese separate from other food to prevent it from absorbing different odors.

Lastly, if you intend to store Asiago for an extended period, freezing is a viable option, but bear in mind that it might alter the texture a bit, making it crumblier. Grate it first, then freeze in an airtight bag or container. Ensure to use frozen Asiago within six months for the best tasting experience.

Remember, Asiago cheese, like all cheese, is a living food. Therefore, regardless of how carefully you store it, consume it within a reasonable time to enjoy its rich, creamy, and nutty taste.

Pairing Asiago Cheese with its Perfect Wine

Asiago, an Italian cow’s milk cheese that comes in both fresh and aged varieties, has a unique, slightly tangy flavor that when paired properly with wine, can create culinary harmony. With its historical roots in the Po River Valley in the Veneto and Trentino regions, this cheese has a rich tradition that goes hand in hand with some of the world’s finest wines.

The fresh (Asiago Pressato) and mature (Asiago d’allevo) Asiago cheeses, though similar in name, have separate flavor profiles, thus complementing different sorts of wines. The prime source of these cheeses’ distinct flavors lies in their manufacturing process, with the former carrying a smooth, buttery quality, while the latter has a sharper, more complex flavor with a firmer texture.

Fresh Asiago, with its sweet and slightly tangy flavor, works excellently with light-bodied wines. Wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, with their complementary flavors, help bring out the cheese’s subtle sweetness, balancing its rich creaminess. These wines also carry strong fruit undertones and crisp acidity, known for cutting through milky intensity and refreshing the palate. Talk about a perfect weekend brunch!

  • Sauvignon Blanc: Sourced mainly from France’s Loire Valley, this light-bodied wine boasts a crisp acidity with a mix of green and tropical fruit flavors.
  • Pinot Grigio: This intensely flavored variety, predominantly from northeastern Italy, gives a refreshing hit of apple, pear and stone fruit paired with lively acidity, balancing the fresh Asiago’s milky taste.

Concerning mature Asiago, the strong, complex flavors need a full-bodied red wine like Chianti or a white wine with substantial depth like Chardonnay or Vermentino. These wines’ richness matches the cheese’s intense flavor while providing a counterbalance to Asiago’s inherent saltiness.

  • Chianti: An Italian classic filled with lively acidity and tangy sour-cherry flavors. It’s structured enough to stand up to the Asiago d’allevo’s bold flavor.
  • Chardonnay: This full-bodied white from regions such as Burgundy or California presents oaky notes with abundant, rich fruit that can meet the power of mature Asiago.
  • Vermentino: A high-acidity white wine mainly from Sardinia. Vermentino offers a dry yet zesty mineral quality that pairs beautifully with aged Asiago.

End your gourmet Italian dinner in style by savoring these pairings that unite centuries-old cheese and wine-making traditions with modern gastronomic delight.

About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender is a cheese lover from Germany. Having lived abroad for many years he contributes to this site with passion.

Perfect Pairings for the Flavorful Asiago Cheese

Asiago, a cow’s milk cheese from the northeastern part of Italy, is renowned for its rustic and slightly tangy flavor, making it a versatile choice for pairing with a variety of food and drink. Depending on the age of the cheese, you can expect to find a range of flavor profiles, from sweet and creamy in its fresher form to a more bold and sharp flavor when fully aged. Discerning the best matchings for Asiago involves understanding these varying flavor profiles and how they interact with other ingredients.

Fresh, or ‘pressato’, Asiago is a milder cheese, with a smooth, buttery taste and semi-soft texture. If you opt for a young Asiago, consider pairing it with fruits like pears and apples or with sweet preserves, which work to enhance its subtle flavors. A glass of crisp white wine or a fruity red wine will further complement the cheese, making for a delightful, and simple culinary experience.

On the other hand, if you have an aged Asiago, known as ‘vecchio’ or ‘stravecchio’, matching its bold, nutty, and slightly peppery taste with a stronger accompanying flavor profile can do wonders. Here are a few suggestions of pairing selections worth trying:

  • Olive tapenade: The saltiness of the olives matches well with the robust flavor of the aged Asiago, balancing the cheese’s inherent richness.
  • Charcuterie: Dry-cured meats such as prosciutto or salami can add a wonderful savory element when eaten alongside aged Asiago.
  • Rustic bread: A crunchy, hearty bread serves as an excellent base for the cheese, providing a contrast to its hard texture.

Pairing Asiago with full bodied wines, such as a Barolo, a Cabernet Sauvignon, or even a hearty and flavorful beer like an IPA, can also yield a remarkable gastronomic experience. Navigating the pairing domain with Asiago cheese is all about understanding its gradation in flavor profile due to age, and exploring foods and beverages that will complement the specific flavor notes inherent to it. Whether a beginner or a connoisseur in the world of food pairing, the versatility of Asiago cheese is a fascinating exploration worth delving into.

Unraveling the Rich History of Asiago Cheese

Asiago, a fragrant cheese native to Italy, boasts a long-spread cultural history that intertwines with the subtleties of its unique taste. Named after a small township nestled in the Veneto foothills, Asiago has a heritage as rich and varied as the landscape that gives it birth. The cheese’s roots trace back to over a thousand years, producing a legacy of tradition, excellent craftsmanship, and an unparalleled respect for the natural process.

The production of Asiago cheese began in the Middle Ages, where the cooler climate of the Alpine pastures made it ideal for dairy farming and the preservation of milk products. Early Asiago, known as Asiago d’allevo, was a hard, long-aged cheese made primarily in the winter months when milk production was low; this cheese would then be consumed by shepherds during the summer. The cheese’s distinctive flavor, characterized by its richness and slightly sweet undertones, stems from the traditional practice of feeding cows a varied diet of meadow herbs and Alpine grass, infusing the milk, and thus the cheese, with a depth of flavor that speaks of its unique terroir.

In 1996, Asiago claimed its well-deserved European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, ensuring that authentic Asiago cheese can only be produced in particular areas within the Veneto and Trentino regions and according to specific practices. Today, there are two types of Asiago:

  • Asiago Pressato: made from fresh, whole milk, this variety is semi-soft and mildly flavored. It is creamy and smooth, ideal for melting over dishes or consuming in fresh salads.
  • Asiago d’Allevo: made from partially skimmed milk, this type of Asiago is aged for anywhere between 2 months and 2 years. It is characterized by its firm texture, pungent aroma, and sharp, full-bodied flavor, perfect for grating over pasta or risotto.

The marriage of a time-tested method, the geographical specificity, and the duality of Asiago’s textures and flavors, is a testament to the subtleties inherent in the art of cheese-making and the hearty taste of tradition that delights palates worldwide.

The Art of Aging: An Exploration of Asiago and its Closest Cousins

Regarded as one of the most versatile cheeses in the world, Asiago is a celebrated Italian product treasured for its creamy texture and rich flavor. This particular type of cheese traces its roots back to the Po River Valley in northeastern Italy, known for its rich pastures and age-old cheese-making traditions. The distinct taste and texture of Asiago is largely attributed to its aging process, which can stretch from a month to a year or even longer.

As Asiago matures, its profile transforms dramatically. Young Asiago, known as ‘Asiago Pressato’, retains a soft, almost buttery texture and a sweet, milky flavour. With its delicate, delicate nature, it is perfect for adding a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth component to sandwiches or as a topping on fresh salads. On the other side, ‘Asiago d’allevo’ – the aged version of Asiago – becomes harder and crumbly, boasting a depth of flavors encapsulating nutty, savory-sweet with a pleasingly bitter aftertaste. This variant pairs well with robust red wines and is often used to heighten the taste of risottos or pasta dishes.

There are other noteworthy cheeses on the global cheeseboard that share similarities with Asiago due to their similar treatment. Parmigiano-Reggiano, a stalwart of the cheese world, shares with Asiago its love for aging. Other than both being Italian hard cheeses, they have a comparable flavor profile, paired with a satisfying granular texture, which delivers an explosion of taste in the mouth. Another quality substitute is the Beaufort Cheese from France. This high mountain cheese is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, renown for its complex buttery flavors that have unique floral and herbaceous hints.

  • Asiago Pressato – Young, soft and sweet Asiago cheese known for its creamy texture and milky taste.
  • Asiago d’allevo – Aged, hard and crumbly Asiago with a nutty and slightly bitter taste.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – Also aged, this Italian cheese shares a similar granular texture to Asiago but boasts more robust flavors.
  • Beaufort Cheese – A delicious alternative from France known for its complex buttery flavor.

Understanding these cheeses allows for the creation of an exploration into the art of cheesemaking, and more specifically, the beauty of aging. Discovering alternatives to Asiago not only diversifies one’s cheese repertoire but uncovers new ways to impress guests, elevate everyday dishes, and more importantly, indulge in the simple pleasures that quality cheese brings.

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