CreamyGorg, Pepato, Italico....Oh my!

Our family is growing!  La Bottega di BelGioioso© is pleased to welcome three new exclusive cheeses to the line: Pepato, CreamyGorg© and Italico.  As with the other La Bottega di BelGioioso cheeses, each is carefully crafted by one of our Master Cheesemakers. 

Pepato is created when we hand mix whole black peppercorns with our Asiago.  It is perfectly peppered and pairs beautifully with Bordeaux, an APA or even white chocolate.  Shred or shave it onto a roast beef panini or melt it into mashed potatoes for a peppery punch.

CreamyGorg is a soft, spreadable blue veined cheese with an exceptionally earthy flavor.  Our cheesemakers rub each wheel by hand with salt as it ages for 90 days in special caves. CreamyGorg’stender texture and bold flavor make it the perfect topping for steak or chicken.  Stir it into hot pasta for an instant side dish.  CreamyGorg pairs wonderfully with Barolo, Hard Cider or a Dry Coppa.

Italico is crafted in small batches using extra rich milk gathered each day from our local farmers.  It is washed by hand in salt water brine as it ages for 90 days.  This allows it to bloom and develop a rose colored rind and distinctive earthly flavor.  Pair it with Merlot, Dark Ale or berries. Upgrade your grilled cheese or mac and cheese by adding Italico to your favorite recipe!

Watch for more information on these delightful cheeses in the months to come!

As always, we invite you to #savorlabottega!

The La Bottega di BelGioioso family of cheeses

The La Bottega di BelGioioso family of cheeses

Crescenza Stracchino - One of Italy's Great Treasures

Crescenza-Stracchino cheese is one of Italy’s lesser known treasures.  It was first made in the Lombardy region in autumn months when cattle herders would bring their cows down the mountains from their alpine grazing pastures.  The cows would become tired from their journey and would produce milk that was extra rich in butter and protein.  This fresh cheese from the tired cows (“vacca stracca” in Italian) was enjoyed by the cattle herders and sold to villagers along the way. The cheese starts as a semi-soft cheese and as it ages, it becomes very soft and spreadable.  When placed in a rigid container it will grow (“crescere” in Italian) to take the shape of the container.

La Bottega di BelGioioso’s exacting standards for extra rich, fresh, local milk allows us to make Crescenza year round.  Master Cheesemaker, Jeff Allen, says “I love making Crescenza.  It’s a small batch cheese that is hands on throughout the whole process.  It allows me to use all of my senses to ensure the cheese is delicious every time.”

Crescenza is an exceptionally versatile cheese.  Spread it on warm, crusty bread or a sliver of Granny Smith apple for a tasty treat.  Melt it into pasta or onto a pizza or panini.  Spread it onto a toasted crostini and top with strawberries or pomegranate with a drizzle of dark chocolate for a quick and easy dessert.

Crescenza Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula

Crescenza Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula

American Grana Extra Aged Parmesan

Steve Bierhals, the Master Cheesemaker responsible for crafting La Bottega di BelGioioso’s American Grana Extra Aged Parmesan is a very patient man.  He has to be.  This is a cheese that is aged over 24 months to achieve its’ signature flavor and texture.  His favorite thing about American Grana is “there is a lot of tradition in the making of this cheese going back many, many years; especially in other countries in the world.”

It all starts with the extra rich milk that is brought in every day and is made into cheese within hours of milking.  Home grown starter cultures are then added to the fresh milk.  These cultures have been passed down over generations and transform the milk into its specific cheese type. Steve then waits until the curd is perfectly formed and then shapes it into what will become 65+ pound wheels of American Grana.

The young cheese is allowed to rest and any excess whey is drained from it.  It is flipped daily to ensure even drying.  After that, it is placed into brine tanks.  This method allows for even salt distribution.  The wheels of cheese are hand turned on a daily basis while soaking.  Next, the aging process starts.  This is where patience pays off.  Steve says “This cheese is aged so long that you need to have all the right factors in its production or it will show in the finished product.”  He adds, “Making this cheese is an art. It takes good milk, good cultures and good people who care and want to make a good product.”

While you might be tempted to shred this tasty cheese onto your next pasta dish or salad, we encourage you to try it on its own.  We’re certain its deep nutty flavor with just a hint of salt will make it a “go to” at your next snacking session.

 

Huge Wheels of American Grana Age on Wooden Shelves

Huge Wheels of American Grana Age on Wooden Shelves

*Steve Bierhals has received countless awards for his American Grana including several First Place, Best of Class medals at International Cheese competitions.

*Steve Bierhals has received countless awards for his American Grana including several First Place, Best of Class medals at International Cheese competitions.

Mastering March Madness

Whether your bracket is busted early in the tournament or you’re still cheering for your favorite team into the final four, hosting a March Madness party can be a slam dunk if you follow these simple tips.

  • First, the food. Now is not the time to prepare an elaborate dinner. March Madmen (and women) will be perfectly satisfied with snacks and apps that they can eat without having to get up from in front of the TV.  A cheeseboard featuring La Bottega cheeses along with several cured meats will go a long way towards satisfying your hungry crowd.  Finger food like our Zesty White Pizza (recipe below) will also do the trick.
  • Keep beverages close at hand in a cooler with ice.  A selection of craft beers, water and soft drinks are all you’ll need to quench the thirst of the most vocal fans. For a little extra kick, you can fill a small Gatorade cooler like this one (http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/gatorade-1-gallon-cooler/16gatugtrd1gllnclgaa) with your favorite signature cocktail.
  • Decorating can be as easy as crafting a few pennants for the teams still in the tournament.  Ask your guests to “represent” their favorite team….even if they’re not in the tournament.  Basketball themed cupcakes can be a great decoration and are a delicious half time treat as well.
  • You may want to have a couple of televisions set up in the room if there’s more than one game being played. That way party goers can follow all the action without having to change channels.
  • Sturdy disposable plates, cups, cutlery and napkins make for quick clean up.
Zesty 4 Cheese White Pizza

Zesty 4 Cheese White Pizza

Zesty Four-Cheese White Pizza

3 T EVOO

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough

6 oz BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls

4 oz La Bottega di BelGioioso Peperoncino, Shredded

6 oz BelGioiosoWhole Milk Ricotta

4 oz BelGioioso Crumbled Ricotta Salata

·         Preheat oven to 425° F.  Brush a 13x9-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Mix remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.

·         Press pizza dough into baking pan.  Brush with some of the garlic oil.  Par bake for 5 – 7 minutes until slightly browned.  This can be done in advance.

·         Spread Whole Milk Ricotta over the entire crust.  Top with Fresh Mozzarella Pearls, Peperoncino and Ricotta Salata.  Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle with additional garlic oil if desired.

Spice Things Up with Peperoncino!

There are all kinds of spiced and flavored cheeses on the market today.  For our Peperoncino®, we went way back to find two flavor combinations that are a perfect match. To truly appreciate La Bottega di BelGioioso’s Peperoncino cheese, one must first look to the history of the ingredients used: Asiago Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes.

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