Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mmmm... Piave...

Ok, so I couldn't wait any long to write about this cheese. It is and always has been one of my team's favorite cheeses - Piave Vecchio (or lovingly known to us as just Piave).

Unlike the last cheese that I posted about, this is a cheese that we carry all the time. It is one of the few cheeses that we are able to display out of refrigeration because of how long it is aged (1 year), the low water activity and salt content. When I talk about water activity I am referring to how much moisture the cheese has. The longer a cheese ages and the harder it gets, the lower the water activity. Cheeses like Bries or Chevres have a very high water activity, so they need to be kept in refrigeration (unless you're about to eat them of course). That being said, you will see this cheese on display tables throughout our cheese department and more often than not, accompanied with a bowl of samples... :)

Piave is an Italian cheese that is in the grating category. It is often compared to the king of cheeses - Parmigiano Reggiano. The flavor is beautifully nutty, sweet and fruity but not as salty as the Parmigiano Reggiano. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see little white spots throughout the cheese. These are clusters of an amino acid known as tyrosine. Tyrosine is typically found in the prominent protein in milk - casein. You will find these little crystals in aged cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, aged goudas or aged Asiago. But the most interesting fact about this amino acid (to me at least) is that it is a precusor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine which are responsible for you feeling good and happy! If you needed another excuse to eat more cheese, there you have it!

This cheese is good in just about any form. You can shave it over salads, grate it and melt it on crostinis or just slice it up for a snack to munch on. Alison, our wine specialist, often recommends this cheese for pairing with wines as it goes with both red and white. Also, because it is slightly salty, it goes wonderfully with a cool, crisp beer like Lagunitas Pils... delicious!

As I said before we typically have samples alongside this cheese, but if we don't, grab a piece and ask for a taste! Anybody on my team would be happy to tell you about their personal experiences with this cheese and the reason why they love it. I hope you learned something from this post and to see you at my cheese counter soon! Until then, eat, drink and be happy!