In the world of cheese, international bragging rights are almost always nothing more than conjecture. The French claim to produce the best washed-rind (smelly) cheeses, but Taleggio, Vacherin Mont d’Or and La Serena are legitimate points of contention by the Italians, Swiss and Spanish. The British will argue that the Cheddars of Somerset have no equal, but Americans are correct in their claim that this is strictly a matter of taste. And we, the United States of America, have what is almost certainly the best collection of blues in the world. But is our top blue better than Cabrales, Roquefort, Stilton or Gorgonzola? Who can say for sure?
Amongst all of these outlandish claims, one stands out as an absolute fact: the Italians are superior in the art of blending milk. The irony of this statement cannot be lost: Italian cheese makers began to blend milks strictly out of necessity. In the mountainous terrain of the Piedmont, if a cheese maker was short on cow milk, he would have no choice but to add sheep or goat milk to meet his quota. Making the most of a bleak situation, the Piedmontese cheese makers experimented with ratios, and soon developed outstanding, fresh robiolas.
One of Italy’s premier producers, Caseificio dell’Alta Langha, has proven that the simplest solution is usually the best. Their award-winning robiola, Rocchetta Alta Langha, is equal parts cow, goat and sheep milk, and clearly accents the best that each milk has to offer. Rocchetta offers the richness and creaminess of cow milk, that light, acidic tang of goat milk, and the slight salt finish of the finest Italian sheep milk. These qualities alone would result in a superbly complex flavor, but the Caseificio takes it one step further. After the milks are blended in a vat, they are allowed to “ripen” overnight at room temperature. Un-chilled, flavorful (and healthy) bacteria multiply quickly, so that pasteurization does not interfere with the quality of milk.
The effect Rocchetta has on your taste buds is matched only by the effect it has on your eyes. At two weeks of age, it has developed a beautiful bloomy rind that will leave any caseophile salivating in anticipation of the first bite. It does not disappoint. Texturally, it is billowy-soft and breathtakingly smooth. In compliance with the Piedmontese definition of “good cheese,” Rocchetta is earthy, with notes of mushroom and a hint of sourness akin to crème fraîche. It is one of the most frequently requested cheeses at DiBruno Brothers.
Because of its complex flavor, Rocchetta pairs well with many foods and drinks. DiBruno Brothers sells a Fig and Balsamic Jam that pair with Rocchetta as well as jelly does to peanut butter, and any quality honey drizzled atop Rocchetta will undoubtedly please. A vast variety of wines work as well: complex reds like Tempranillo or Pinot Noir, crisp whites or, if your serving it after dinner, a dry Prosecco. Beyond that, little is needed other than a loaf of bread and a loved one.
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