THE GENESIS OF CHEESE
It’s likely that cheese as we love it today was born by pure chance. Somewhere in the universe, a particularly forward-thinking, curious shepherd might have noticed that recently-consumed milk became notable congealed as a solid mass inside the stomachs of deceased animals. Or possibly in a less macabre chance encounter, they might have noted that milk and whey would consolidate when presented with a fig branch or a wild thistle flower.
Most importantly, the shepherd would likely have observed that both these processes resulted in a product both edible and suitable for human consumption, unlike the natural process of milk going rancid, which as we all might have experience accidentally, produces a solid milk that is rather off-putting as well as inedible.
It’s great to remind ourselves about the origins of cheese as a general refresher course, but also because, as Italian writer Italo Calvino noted in his glorious Mr. Palomar, "behind every cheese there is a pasture of a different green under a different sky... There are different herds with their stabling and transhumance... There are secrets of processing handed down through the centuries.”
Calvino’s observation, while in literary guise, very ably serve to remind us that the natural, human, and cultural factors within the science (or art) of cheese-making make it one of the most variable, remarkable production processes in the gastronomic arena.
The interplay between environmental conditions, animal resources and artisan savoir faire are all crucial elements that determine the quality of the milk used to create the Piave DOP cheese. These facets of Piave cheese production remind me of the fragility in creating this classic Italian gourmet commodity, and how all features work together to produce their end result - a delicate process that has been refined with the passage of time.
THE HORIZONS OF PIAVE DOP CHEESE
In keeping with this tradition, the world of Piave cheese is hoping to expand its appeal and its consumer base.
Piave DOP cheese was initially catalogued in approximately 1960, and was produced in quite limited quantities by local social dairies, who collected fresh milk daily from local producers and transformed their milk into the Piave cheese of recent history. The social dairies, locally called turnaria dairies, were an unique element of this area, allowing local dairy farmers to focus on other aspects of their work while other qualified artisans were working their magic with the local milk.
After the Piave DOP cheese was awarded its PDO status in 2010, the high level of quality and dedication to excellence has remained unvaried. Indeed, its also partially thanks to this strict adherence that the Piave dairy producers followed independently that allows them to continue emphasizing their PDO status and in any event, continue producing their cheese the way it’s always been done: with the recent PDO grant, all the regulations and stipulations for producing this cheese were already elements the local producers followed, so nothing new here.
However, wit the PDO status, local producers and artisans are able to ensure their production methods, final results, herd maintenance and general agronomy are all protected against imitations (a significant threat to any producer following traditional methodology in just about any agricultural practice, see the Parmigiano Reggiano DOP issues), and incorrect use of these products in their final state.
THE EXTRAORDINARY GASTRONOMIC VERSATILITY OF PIAVE DOP CHEESE
If you’re unfamiliar with the immense flexibility and variability the Piave DOP cheese contain, there’s not time like right to explore this cheese. Through its various types (sorry, ages!), the Piave cheese is very adept at making itself a fundamental part of any recipe, and never strays from its path as a complementary element. An amazing feature of the Piave DOP cheese is its ability to enhance the other ingredients within recipes where its featured, and it simply doesn’t overlap with other taste sensations emanating from other ingredients within specific dishes.
Of course, much depends on how the chef uses the Piave cheese, keeping in mind of course that any recipe does have basic parameters of aroma and structure to follow, resulting in well-balanced, harmonious dishes where all ingredients work together instead of against each other.
Let’s see how each aged version of Piave DOP cheese works best. Take a look below for some starting recommendations - with so many options, you’ll surely find yourself inspired and delighted with this flexible Italian cheese.
- Piave DOP Fresco (seasoning that ranges from 20 days to two months), with its immense pleasantness, is perfect with fresh vegetables, pasta, or rice salads.
- Piave DOP Mezzano (aged from 61 to 180 days), provides the perfect structure for soufflés, vegetable flans, or small, savory baked pasta dishes. These selections accentuate the vegetal nuance of the Piave cheese selection.
- Piave DOP Vecchio (seasoned for over 180 days), enters into a perfect marriage with a savory risotto dish. Or, why not gnocchi and any other potato-based dish? The cheese’s gustatory energy leaps to the forefront in this starchy pairing.
- Piave DOP Vecchio Selezione Oro (aged over 12 months) and Piave DOP Vecchio Riserva (aged over 18 months) are ideal with a selection of chutneys and mustards, fruit preserves, and mountain honeys. As part of a cheese platter, the richness and intensity of both aged versions are sagely honored and articulated.
So much more the check out about the Piave DOP cheese theme. Head over to Andrea Grignaffini’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Piave DOP Cheese, for lots more elemental info about Northern Italy’s fine cheese selections. Read up on the Piave DOP Consortium to see how they’re getting the word out about this cheese selection. What to drink with your cheese? Check out the Wine Selections and get busy selecting your favorites recommended wines. Learn more on Mamablip’s Cheese Selections page as well for a quick refresher on Piave DOP cheese options.
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