When I decided to write about Taleggio, I realized that this is now the third rather pungent cheese I'm writing about in a row. I hope you all don't mind... I've been on a stinky cheese kick recently!
Cheese: Taleggio D.O.P.
Producer: Various - the one pictured is produced by Ca De Ambros
Region: Mainly Lombardy, but also in Piedmont, Italy
Milk: Pasteurized or raw cow's milk - the one pictured is pasteurized
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
You can see that the rind has a bit of a reddish hue and that tells us that this is a smear ripened cheese similar to an Epoisses or Brescinella. When the cheese is being made, the curds are put into molds and then left at temperatures of around 70-77 degrees F. From there they are brined or hand salted and aged in caves for about 40 days. During the aging process, they are cleaned with a salt water solution to keep any unwanted molds away and to help develop the sticky, reddish rind that we know and love.
The texture of this cheese is like a dense marshmallow. It is pale cream in color and is springy, yet wonderfully smooth. The scent is super grassy and not too stinky. I don't typically eat the rind on this cheese because it is a bit bitter, but the paste of the cheese is so creamy and unctuous, sweet and mushroomy all at the same time. The pasteurized version tends to be a bit more mellow than the raw version as the raw milk keeps a lot of the natural flavors which shine through beautifully.
Taleggio just screams for a big, fruity red. I like it with a full bodied Pinot Noir like Migration Pinot Noir or a yummy IPA like Stone IPA. Also try with fruits, nuts and honey... you can't go wrong! I hope you enjoy this cheese as much as I did. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!