An interesting thing about cheese is that it is different all the time. Each sort has a lot of variants, and you can never say you know exactly what kind of cheese you are buying today. And this element of surprise brings a variety onto your usual enough and habitual holiday menu. If talk about one of the most popular Italian cheeses - Asiago cheese - the number of variants pleasantly astonishes. You can always find the very that flavor you need especially today for a definite dish. And the quality of this, without any doubts, delicious cheese determines its wide popularity among people not only in Italy, but in Europe and the world as a whole.
The history of Asiago cheese goes back to the beginning of the 10th century when the Dolomite slopes near the Altopiano di Asiago (the high plane of Asiago) were a perfect place for the sheep pastures. The shepherds of that time gathered their milk and made the ancient version of modern Asiago. With the time passing, cows changed the sheep and the very their milk became the main component of this wonderful cheese. The sappy mountain meadows caused the delicious taste of the milk and the cheese made of it.
First, Asiago cheese was produced for mostly local use, but now it is so popular that almost all northeastern Italy is occupied with its making. The exclusive right for its producing Vincenza e Trento, Padua and Treviso areas have. There exist about 90 manufactures which work is under the control of the Consortium of Asiago. The main purpose of this organization founded in 1979 is to look after the quality of the cheese produced. When purchasing this product in the supermarket you are to pay your attention to the certificate of the Consortium, which proves that the cheese is produced in accordance with the guidelines.
There exist several types of this product depending on age and the milk used. The two main forms are fresh Asiago known as Pressato and mature Assigo called Assiago d'Allevo. Fresh Asiago cheese has a white color and is usually aged up to 40 days. Only whole milk is used for this cheese. Asiago d'Allevo has a yellowish color, a grainy texture and its main ingredient is skimmed (not whole) milk. This type of cheese is to be aged from three months to a year, depending on flavor and texture you want to get.
As for the flavor and use of both types of the product, Pressato is a sweet soft cheese perfect for pastas and pizzas. Asiago d'Allevo is firm, with a sharp flavor, delicious with vegetables and red wine. Asiago d'Allevo can also be various, for example, mezzano is a medium-ripe cheese aged from four to five months. Vecchio Asiago is to be aged nine months and longer. Stravecchio has the age of a year and more.
In general, you need to remember that the sharper flavor and the more firm structure you want to get, the more aged cheese you are to buy. And do not forget that cheese is not only a wonderful snack and addition to the main dishes; it can be successfully used for cooking such tasty courses as Asiago cheese bread, different sauces, pastas and more. So, do not forget about cheese when prepare your dinner, and let it be Asiago, a savory nutty-flavored cheese from the mountain slopes of Italy.