BelGioioso Family of Cheeses – Part One – American Grana, Fontina, Mascarpone Tiramisu, Provolone
T Minus 6 Days and Counting – Voting Begins Tomorrow – “Send Spaulding Gray to Wisconsin…or Not…”
What do American Grana, Fontina, Mascarpone Tiramisu and Provolone have in common that would cause me to combine them into one blog entry? All of these cheeses are sold by The Lady at The Cheese Island which is adjacent to The Kiosk.
In Italy Grana Padano is the Number #1 Parmesan; The Lady tells her customers that it’s an “everyday Parm”. For the first time an American cheesemaker has captured the greatness of this Italian hard cheese. It is so good The American Cheese Society has honored this cheese twice in the last five years.
It is aged 18 months and has the same full-body and nuttiness of the Italian version. The Lady loves this cheese and anything The Lady loves…well…you can pretty much count on me loving it as well…interesting how that happens, don’tcha think???
I give BelGioioso’s American Grana 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got…but you already knew that…).
Serving Suggestions: This is a very versatile cheese that can be grated over salads and soups. The Lady likes to grate it into her homemade pizza dough and breads to add an extra level of taste. She makes whole wheat breads and when she adds this cheese, The Man bellies up to the bar to get a hot slice as soon as it comes out of the oven. He claims The Lady’s culinary talents were part of his original attraction to her. She cooked dinner for him early on in their courting days and that closed the deal for The Man. She made spinach salad, BBQ baby back ribs, grits and fresh peach cobbler…a strange combination but it worked; you can’t argue with the results.
Back to American Grana…
You can also create a wonderful risotto dish using this cheese; grate it over asparagus and add it to your favorite lasagna dish. I also found this pan-seared scallops’ recipe on the Eat Wisconsin Cheese website this morning and The Lady plans to make it for dinner. I get scallops for dinner…woohoo!! You can also serve this cheese as a table cheese with fresh fruit and you’ve got an elegant dessert when you splash a little champagne into a glass.
Visit the BelGioioso website for more recipes and suggestions including an Artichoke Dip and Stuffed Vegetable Cannelloni.
Wine Pairings: The general rule of thumb for pairing cheese and wine is “the bigger the cheese is the more robust should be the wine”. Therefore with this “big cheese”, pair it with robust Chianti and other sangiovese-grape wines. If you want to choose an American wine, go with any big California Cab, or an Oregon Pinot Noir.
Beer Pairings: Pair America Grana with moderately hoppy Pale Ales and Amber Ales like Harpoon Ale, Stone Cat Ale, Ipswich Ale, Shoal’s Pale Ale, and Magic Hat Bob’s 1st Ale.
Source: Cow’s Milk…I’m still wondering if sheep and goat are allowed to hang out in the green, green pastures of Wisconsin…
Awards: Second Place 2004 and 2005 – American Cheese Society
BelGioioso Fontina is aged more than sixty days and has an appealing silky texture with a sweet, buttery and slightly earthy taste. This cheese melts beautifully and can work as the base of most fondue recipes. The Lady likes it on sandwiches. She uses it in mac n cheese on occasion as well.
I give Fontina 3 Paws out of 4 Paws.
Serving Suggestions: Fontina, because it melts so well, you can use it in many Italian recipes both that call for pasta and risotto. You can slice it on artisan bread along with tomatoes and basil for a nice appetizer. On a cheese tray, Fontina is always a hit along with fruits and nuts. You can cube it and add it to pasta salad along with Black Cerignolas and capers. You can also use it to make a quick and creamy Alfredo Sauce.
Wine Pairings: Chianti or Rose
Beer Pairings: English Brown Ale or Porter, Flanders Red Ale, Flanders Oud Bruin, Belgian Dark Ale, Pale Lager, Pale Wheat Ale
Source: Cows’ Milk
Awards: 1999 Wisconsin State Fair Seal of Excellence
The Lady LOVES this cheese because it’s the base of her favorite dessert, Tiramisu. She doesn’t make it very often (since the diet, she hasn’t made it once…and that makes The Man very sad) because it takes a lot of time and effort. She puts making tiramisu in the same category as making tamales; when she makes tamales it takes all day. She makes at least one hundred tamales at a time and freezes them. Her friend, Lupe, taught her using an old family recipe from Mexico. Wow…from tiramisu to tamales…now that really is a stretch.
Mascarpone is a rich Italian cream cheese and is used in many dessert recipes.
I give Tiramisu Mascarpone 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: You can combine this cheese mixture with a coffee liqueur and alternate layers of this concoction with layers of fresh fruit; particularly with strawberries or raspberries. As mentioned above, it is the base for Tiramisu, the dessert. You can use it to stuff waffles or crepes. So many ways to use this cheese…so little time to enjoy those desserts…
Wine Pairings: Champagne
Beer Pairings: Being a snob, I have to laugh at the concept of beer and tiramisu mascarpone.
Source: Cows’ Milk
If The Man could only eat one cheese the remainder of his days, he would pick Provolone.
In 2007, the American Cheese Society named this cheese “Best of Class”. In addition to this great honor, BelGioioso Provolone has won many other awards over the last two decades.
Depending of its age, it may be sweet (Dolce) as a young cheese to piquant (sharp) in a more aged cheese. It also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Lady brought a bell-shaped piece of Provolone that had a rope for hanging.
In honor of The Man, I give Provolone 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: The Man loves to put Provolone on a Hoagie roll with slices of various cured Italian Boar’s Head meats. He also melts it on his burgers…who knew? The Lady likes to stuff pasta shells with Provolone and top with her homemade marinara sauce. On a cheese platter, it goes well with pears, figs, cashews and olives.
Wine Pairings: Chardonnay
Beer Pairings: Robust Ales
Source: Cows’ Milk
There will be no reviews tomorrow…tomorrow will be reserved for voting to send this feline foodie to Wisconsin with The Lady. IF the voting does not go my way, I will still consider a stowaway contingency plan…
And I sign off with a smoochy hello to Mathilda…