For those that know me, they know that I am quite partial to sheep’s milk cheeses. In my last blog offering, I expressed my eternal love for a cheese called Moliterno, still to this day my favorite. However, there are quite a few other sheep’s milk cheeses that have caught my attention during my tenure here. There’s Foja di Noce and Pecorino Ginepro from Italy…Smoked Idiazabal and Artisan Manchego from Spain…Brind D’ Amour from Corsica, and lastly, Abbaye de Bellocq and Ossau Iraty from the French side of Basque country.
Recently, there’s been a new cheese that has come to strike my fancy…Pecorino Gran Cru, from the same part of Italy as my beloved Moliterno…Sardinia. What caught my attention, other than the sharp, nutty flavor was the fact that this cheese could very well be the sheep milk version of Parmigiano Reggiano. A lofty comparison, yes, but the Pecorino Gran Cru certainly lives up to the hype. For one, it’s aged much the same way as the aforementioned “King of Cheese”. It’s aged for no less than 20 months (most pecorino’s are aged anywhere from 4 – 8 mos.), and is brushed regularly to prevent molding & also turned frequently to ensure even moisture distribution. Another notable characteristic of the Grand Cru is it’s wonderfully moist yet dry texture, an additional distinguishing attribute shared by Parmigiano.
After purchasing Pecorino Gran Cru, be ready to get creative. There are plenty of ways to serve it. Shave it into your salad or cube it and pair it with a nice spicy soppressata. Also, for a more decadent treat serve the Gran Cru in chunks, and drizzle some truffle honey or an aged balsamic on it. And of course, it’s fantastic freshly grated over pasta. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, get some nice crusty Italian bread, & drizzle some Tuscan olive oil on both sides. Add some Prosciutto di Parma and some thinly sliced Pecorino Grand Cru, and your palate will be more than satiated.
Of course being the culinary pioneers that we are at Di Bruno’s, we are the first and only store to carry this magnificent cheese. So come taste it in person and find out for yourself, or order it on-line and be pleasantly surprised. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
– Mike F., 9th St. Cheese Specialist