Thursday, May 30, 2013

Taleggio - Continuing the Stinky Theme

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)

Taleggio is one of those cheeses whose name even a novice turophile would recognize. Many people associate it with being a very stinky cheese when in fact, on the stink level, it's pretty mellow. It gets its name for the Taleggio Valley where it was first produced. Like other alpine cheeses, the making of this cheese was a result of needing something to do with the leftover milk.

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!