miércoles, 9 de abril de 2014

The Gorgonzola cheese

When you talk about Gorgonzola, you immediately think about one of the most important cheeses in every italian kitchen. It is frequently confused with other kinds of blue cheeses, like the english Blue Stilton or the french Roquefort. But behind this delicious cheese there is a whole lot of history with capitular h, and also many legends and myths. One would think it would be an alchemical product, rather than a cheese, whose secret has been told generation after generation until recent times, when it finally seems to start getting the international fame it surely deserves. But the way until the complete rediscovery of Gorgonzola has a very long way to go, since you can still find in shops around the World just the soft and sweetend version of it. Trust us, to eat the real thing, the spicy tough Gorgonzola cheese, when authentic and produced like 1000s years ago, is a true legendary culinary experience you won't never forget!

When we start hearing about Gorgonzola cheese first? This is one of the oldest cheese still in commerce now ever, so we gotta go back and back and back. And back again! The first document talking about a cheese having all the main feature of Gorgonzola is from year 881 a.C., when the Archbishop of Milan, Anspertus from Biassono, in his last will described this kind of cheese. But legends put the turning point in the history of Gorgonzola even earlier. According a legend, in the year 879 a.C., the blue cheese would have been invented in the Gorgonzola borough of Milan, explaining the name of this cheese. Another legend wants that the cheese would have been invented in the VIII century a.C., when some sheperds, coming back from the Alps with their sheeps, would have stopped overnight and there, without the instruments to make their typical Lombard creamy cheeses like Crescenza or Quartirolo (we'll talk about these ancient cheeses too, do not worry) would have mixed the curdle of the previous night with the fresh one of the morning. That "error" would have eventually lead to the creation of the Gorgonzola cheese.

The Gorgonzola cheese is know also as the "Grandpa's cheese"

The "Zola" cheese, as is informally known here in Northern Italy, had huge success from the XIX century, when it was discovered in the kitchens of the European high aristocracies by merit of its taste, just so original and unmarchable (if you tried the original Gorgonzola, you'll know what I mean).
It is just so different from other blue cheese, like what Guinness is to other beers.
In the other blue cheeses, the milky part prevail over the aromatic part, instead with the Gorgonzola the strong spicy and  aromatic part dominates the milky part, but without being too much in your face. It is an incredibly culinary controlled risk the Gorgonzola, but when you'll eat it, you'll just go "whoa!" like you've just had a rollercoaster experience. 
There are lots of curiosities too, for example the Gorgonzola was the only italian cheese present in the first class dinner in the menù of the Titanic. Not even the Pecorino nero di Pienza or the 36-months-old Parmigiano Reggiano was there!
Some decades later, we can add that Churchill himself, in the heavy Milan bombings by Royal Air Force, forbid the planes to hit the city of Gorgonzola, so to not damage the production of the cheese he was very fond of.
What makes its taste so different and unique? It is because of the higher number of different types of bacterical cultivations inside the cheese. Other blue cheese have only the pennicillium roqueforti, that gives light blue veins, but the green veins of the Gorgonzola comes from another kind of bactery, the pennicillium glaucum, enriching the flavour.

The gourmet food lovers just adore the original Gorgonzola Piccante!

Even if today you can find in many supermarkets worldwide the sweet version of the Gorgonzola cheese, there is a different version, realized exactly as it was produced 1200 years ago: the Gorgonzola Piccante, or the spicy Gorgonzola. The differences are overall in the consistence of the cheese, the sweet one being creamy and somewhat melted, with fewer blueish veins with a delicate colour. The Gorgonzola Piccante is tough in consistence and taste, and the veins are much more evident. The Zola Dolce needs a ripening of two months maximum, while the Piccante needs a ripening of three months at least. Because of the very traditional way of making it, the Gorgonzola Piccante is very complicate to find it outside of Italy, so if you get the chance to see it, don't hesitate and buy it! You'll be rewarded with a strong and involving taste, ideal to drink with strong red wines like the Piedmont's Barolo (isn't it the king of wines? Drink it with the king of cheeses then!), the Brunello di Montalcino, the Amarone or the Barbaresco.
Try it with some rustic crunchy bread, and you'll understand the full range of the Gorgonzola cheese taste. Both the Gorgonzolas, the Dolce and the Piccante, are a real secret weapon in the kitchen, you can use it to do white sauces (for example our gorgonzola bechamel sauce), or as an ingredient in your pizzas, or even with meat or gourmet hamburgers. In the risottos the Gorgonzola is the ideal match, maybe with some red radicchio salad.

What are you waiting for? Go and find this gorgeous blue cheese, but be careful of the countless imitations, only the original has the "g" for Gorgonzola!

Only the real one has the "g" symbol for Gorgonzola!


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