Having a hard time choosing from the over 400 cheeses we have at our salumi and formaggi counter? Start with these five must-try European cheeses.
Our partners at AOP AGRIFORM are experts in finding the cream of the crop. AOP AGRIFORM is an association of the producer organizations, partnering with some of the most important dairy cooperatives. The cheeses produced by AOP AGRIFORM and its dairy partners are made using milk collected by thousands of member farmers.
Made with amore in the heart of Europe, each of the below cheeses is made according to specific regional traditions (brush up on what the DOP certification means here). Whether served as part of an antipasto platter or grated into your favourite dishes, each cheese represents the best of European cheesemaking traditions.
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO DOP
Known as the “King of Cheese,” Parmigiano Reggiano DOP is produced in Emilia-Romagna in the hilly and mountainous areas between the Po and Tyrrhenian rivers, with milk from heritage breed cows that feed exclusively on locally grown forage. Select breeds, like the Rossa Reggiana and the Vacca Bruna, produce milk that is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and casein, which make it ideal for the production of a Parmigiano Reggiano with an intense aroma and distinct, brothy flavour. Sure, you can grate this cheese over any pasta – but we’d recommend doing as the Italians do and breaking off large chunks to savor on their own with a glass of wine.
What to make: Parmigiano Reggiano and Rosemary Shortbread
GRANA PADANO DOP
Can’t get enough crumbly, complex-aged cheese? Keep your formaggio tasting tour going with Grana Padano DOP. With a recipe that dates back to Cistercian monks in the middle ages in the Po River Valley, Grana Padano DOP is a staple in Italian cuisine. With a consistent straw colour, grainy structure, and nutty flavour, every wheel of Grana Padano DOP is made with semi-skimmed, unpasteurized milk from cows raised on a controlled diet of fresh or stored forage and greens, which can only be sourced in the legally designated area.
What to make: Zucchini Pancakes with Grana Padano
Next, move from hard-aged cheeses toward something a bit softer with Asiago DOP. A cow’s milk cheese produced in the Alpine plateaus of northern Italy, this soft and compact cow’s milk cheese produced in the Altopiano di Asiago (Asiago plateau) in Northern Italy. At Eataly, we carry the “Mezzano” version of this cheese, meaning it is aged for four to six months. With a fragrant and sweet taste, this alpine cheese pairs well with Speck IGP.
What to make: Gnocchi stuffed with Asiago DOP fondue
A table cheese produced exclusively in Friuli Venezia Giulia and northeastern Veneto, Montasio DOP is named after the group of mountains between the Resia Valley and Canale del Ferro. This cheese boasts an aromatic bouquet and fruity, grassy notes. This cheese was first made by monks from the milk of cows that graze in the foothills of the Alps. Hundreds of years later, the “recipe” is almost the same and earned its DOP status in 1986, cementing the production methods. After being brined and salted, Montasio is aged for a minimum of 60 days (and up to more than 18 months), allowing the flavours to intensify over time.
What to make: Rosti with Montasio DOP and vegetables
This compact, eyeless cheese takes its name from the river in the Belluno province, just north of Venezia. This hard cheese is produced following traditional methods, using pasteurized cow’s milk. This cheese has a sweet and intense flavour that becomes more pronounced as it ages. This Mezzano (medium-aged) cheese boasts a slightly thicker rind with a pale yellow inside.
What to make: Aubergines with Piave Cheese
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