Piedmont: its beauties and cheeses.
Piedmont: the best Italian cheeses (part 2)
Piedmont is one of the northwestern Italian regions, whose regional capital is Turin. Famous not only for hosting 2006 Winter Olympic Games, but also and above all for being now one of the major Italian cities, Turin was Italy’s very first capital city in 1861 and Savoy dynasty’s kings and queens seat, who ruled Italy until 1946.
PIEDMONT AND ITS REGIONAL CAPITAL
The elegance and majesty of the Royal family are still there in its sumptuous palaces and broad squares, that you can visit. You can also find the second most important Egyptian museum in the world after the one in Cairo. Moreover, it hosts the Holy Shroud, that is an important element for Christian cult. It is said to be a linen sheet where the suffering face of a man (most probably Jesus Christ) who went through crucifixion is impressed. This leads to think that it is Jesus’s burial shroud. Since 2010, it is held in Saint John the Baptist Cathedral and next public exhibition will be from 19th to 24th April 2015.
Colline del Monferrato. Image credits: BORGHY52 (Creative Commons license)
During a stay in Piedmont, it is also worth having a look at the surrounding territory and landscapes. A bit eastwards from Turin, there is the historical-geographical region called Monferrato, which mostly englobes the provinces of Alessandria and Asti and became one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in June 2014.
With its hilly territory, broad green spaces and small medieval towns with their characteristic castles alternate. Moreover, in the northern part of this region, you can admire the weird combination of a hilly terrain, covered by vineyards, that gradually slants down into the Lomellina Valley, a flat one where rice is cultivated. Indeed, Monferrato region is known for being one of the most famous wine-producing region, above all of red wines and spumante, that have been marked with DOC and DOCG (Designation of Origin Certified and Guaranteed) labels.
These wines are the right complement to this region’s wide choice of cheeses, that include fresh hard and semi-hard cheeses, soft cheeses and mature ones. Here’s just a few:
- Toma biellese, derived from cow’s whole raw milk, aged for a quite long period. It has a sweet flavor that recalls the essence of mountain fodders;
- Spress, that means “cheese” in the local dialect, is a pressed cheese obtained by a mix of cow’s and goat’s raw milk and has a semi-cooked paste. If a bit aged, it has a sweet flavor compared to the stronger one of the more aged variety;
- Robiola d’Alba, a soft cheese from cow’s whole raw or pasteurized milk. It is rapidly aged and has a light and sweet milky and buttery flavor;
- Seirass di latte, which is erroneously referred to as a ricotta cheese because of its creamy and velvety consistency, but it is not since it derives from a different milk processing technique;
- Caprino valsesiano is a fresh semi-hard cheese of goat’s milk, produced in the Valsesia (valley). Sometimes mixed with cow’s and sheep’s milk, it gets a stronger flavor while aging;
- Bra (PDO label), a type of cheese of cow’s semi-fat milk, to which sheep and/or goat’s milk can be added. It can be hard or soft and can be defined as a “mountain product” or a “mountain pastures product” according to the altitude it is produced and aged;
- Toma piemontese, that seems to date back to Roman era and to be eaten by poor people afterwards. It is produced with cow’s milk only and can have a soft texture if semi-fat milk is used, or semi-hard paste if it’s obtained by semi-skimmed milk.
Well, we can really say this is just a little “taste” of what Piedmont can offer you as for cheeses, as they are countless. So, get to find out more about it!
Green Tomini cheese
Electric Tomini cheese
it.wikipedia.org – Sindone di Torino
duepassinelmistero.com – Torino magica
it.wikipedia.org – Monferrato
Images courtesy of Caseificio Rosso