The stinky Italian
by Eric CasellaMay 12th, 2014
While it may not have the name recognition of its Italian counterparts mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Pecorino, Taleggio is just as versatile in the kitchen and frequently offers far more complexity eaten on its own. With its origins dating back to the 10th century, this square formed stinker was originally stored in the natural caves of Valsassina in Lecco, Lombardia with an aim to preserve local milk.
- Food: The darkest, crustiest bread you can find.
- Drink: Full bodied, effervescent dark beers to match the intensity while lightening the creaminess on the palate.
Tangy, rich milk backed by notes of fruit, meat, and nuts, this funky Italian cow’s milk carries as much flavor as it does history. A thin, orange rind barely holds in the rich, off-white paste with a consistency and mouthfeel just slightly firmer than custard.
A Brief History of Taleggio DOP
As a name protected, or DOP (Denominazione Origine Protetta) cheese, Taleggio has seen a wide variety of producers as its popularity has grown over the centuries. Although name protection requires Taleggio to follow the same recipe regardless of producer, it can be made from either raw or pasteurized cow’s milk in both small local dairies and large factories. These factors contribute to the final qualities of the cheese and means that there may be consistencies—or lack there of—between batches, with an emphasis on certain flavors and textures, or stability.
Regardless of the dairy or factory where it is produced, every square of Taleggio is branded with a four circle branding known as the Consorzio Tutela Taleggio, guaranteeing its quality and origin.
The Monger’s Cut
All in all, Taleggio is not only a great jumping off point for those looking to taste their first funky cheese, but its variability between producers and batches, as well as versatility in the kitchen, makes it a staple for any cheese lover’s pantry. A stinky, square, Italian cheese that dates back to the 10th century? Sign us up!