Italy is widely known for pasta and cured meats but the country is also the birthplace of many of the world’s favorite cheeses as well. And these Bello Deli cheese are as subtly diverse and as unique as the cured meats and other dishes characterized by the 20 different regions of Italy.
MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA
Known as “buffalo mozzarella,” this cheese is, of course, made from the milk of buffalo. In fact, mozzarella was, at first, solely made from buffalo milk but now that some dairies in the world make it with cow’s milk, it is necessary to distinguish its origin.
This type of cheese should be eaten fresh, preferably in the same place—or close to—where it is produced. In fact, no one should ever eat this cheese directly out of the refrigerator, as it will not have any flavor: it should be rested at room temperature for at least a half an hour (to reach its ultimate freshness).
This sheep’s milk cheese originate in the Middle Ages, when it was mostly produced in the high plains around the Northeastern Italian region of Asiago. Now, of course, you can find Asiago cheese made from cow’s milk and aged anywhere between a few weeks to almost a year. It is mild in flavor, but this can shift depending on its age.
Native to Southern Italy’s Basilicata region, this cow’s milk cheese is now common to most of the rest of the country. It can be hardly aged at all (a few months) to aged over a year, which sharpens and deepens its flavor, of course.
Made in several Italian regions, Fontina is a relatively young cow’s milk cheese. Aged three months (or longer), this softer product is fragrant, fruity, and sometimes bold—kind of like an Italian version of gruyere.
From the Italy’s Lombardy region, this cow’s milk cheese is typically aged about six months. It is, perhaps, among the smellier—stinkier—cheese, with a bit of a nutty, tarty, salty, beefy flavor. It is a softer cheese that can mix/melt well into polenta or atop crusty bread.
As its name implies, this sheep’s milk cheese hails from Tuscany and can be aged anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Made from sheep’s milk, this cheese tends to be slightly oily as well as aromatic and complex.
Born of the Lombardy region, this cow’s milk cheese is made one of two ways. Gorgonzola can be made softer, with a mellow and sweet flavor and the aged, drier style which gives it a more intense, sometimes bitter flavor.