For years, I’ve served dishes that were spontaneously created from my refrigerator or made with food—sometimes slightly dried or in need of trimming—that otherwise might get thrown away. My kids ate countless minestrones, chilies and even tossed salads that were never the same from one version to the next. The fact is, I disdain wasting food, plus I think those bits can add style, texture, color and taste.
Some cheeses have a history worth celebrating centuries later. One is Formaggio di Fossa di Sogliano, which is renowned and celebrated at the annual Pit Cheese Festival in Sogliano al Rubicone in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Held on the last two Sundays in November and the first Sunday of December, the festival includes a market selling this cheese, and the ripening pits are open to the public.
Remember that first cheese pairing when the combination of flavors transformed into something sublime on the palate, when a new world of textures and exotic impressions awakened the taste buds to combinations that didn’t seem plausible? In this age of “anything is possible” cheese lovers have a lot to look forward to when selecting pairings.
My first quiche was a voluptuous open-faced tart with smoky lardons, Gruyère and golden strands of sautéed onion baked in custard. It was called a Lorraine, and I was seduced. Later, I learned it was a misnomer according to the French society that defined quiches, saying that only bacon should be in the seasoned custard. With cheese added, it becomes a Vosgienne (referring to the Vosges region of France); sautéed onions in the mix make it Alsaçienne. But Lorraine became the familiar name for many of these savory tarts.
What is the big deal about rennet, and what part does it play in the cheesemaking process?
Cheese is traditionally made with milk, salt, cultures and rennet. Rennet allows cheesemakers to efficiently turn fresh milk into curd, a technique they’ve been using for thousands of years. Over time, milk curds on its own, but by that time, the milk may sour. Rennet speeds up this process so proteins in the milk form curd, and the liquid separates and run off as whey.
The master cheesemakers at Belgioioso Cheese began crafting Crescenza-Stracchino with a purpose a few years ago, mostly to fill the need of a customer’s request. That purpose soon turned into a passion, as the talented group of cheesemakers at the company’s Langes Corners plant in Denmark, WI, fell in love with the challenging process and the nuances of the finished cheese.