Are you like us and dream about cheese? Do you find ways to sneak it into every meal? Are you always on the hunt for new flavours and versatilities? Prepare to be really, really jealous.
Last month, the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario (ICCO) organized a trip of a lifetime for four lucky foodies – including Matte PR’s founder and president, Heidi Ruggier. Wait for it…
She was sent to Italy.
To. Eat. Cheese.
But not just any cheese. Let us introduce you to Pecorino Toscano, the delicately flavoured cheese you needed to know about yesterday. The good news is, there’s no need for FOMO thanks to Cheese Boutique right here in Toronto. Keep reading.
From September 24 to 28, Heidi Ruggier, Jason Skrobar, Claire Tansey and Afrim Pristine witnessed firsthand the cheesemaking process behind Pecorino Toscano DOP. If you’re new to our blog, DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) certified products are the real deal. Basically, it means the cheese is locally produced and packaged using traditional methods. Luckily, the ICCO works hard to ensure Canadians can enjoy all sorts of DOP certified products and you can look for designation labels at your local grocery stores.
So, here’s what went down.
The four of them hopped off a plane and began their adventure in the area of Massa Marittima in southern Tuscany (aka Toscano, get it?). They visited several cheese factories like Caseificio San Martino Formaggi, Caseificio Maremma and Caseificio Follonica. In fact, Pecorino Toscano DOP is produced by 865 farmers, 17 cheesemaking facilities, one affineur and one packaging operation. That’s it.
What’s remarkable about this cheese region is its use of geothermal energy every step of the way. The machinery is powered by captured renewable geothermal steam, literally rising from the earth, without CO2 emissions. So, not only is eating Pecorino Toscano DOP good for you, it’s basically good for the planet too.
They even visited a sheep farm where the milk is produced, giving the cheese that distinct flavour from grazing on land exclusively in the area, rich in grasses and nutrients.
So what happens after the milk is produced? Well, there are two types of Pecorino Toscano DOP – fresh or aged. Both equally dreamy. Once the rennet is added and the milk coagulates, the separated curd is poured into cheese wheels and placed in a warm chamber to let age. The size of the wheel depends on the type of cheese it’ll be.
Fresh is, as you can guess, soft and creamy and pale in colour. The ageing period is about 20 to 60 days, so the flavour stays delicate, sweet and buttery. On the other hand, the aged cheese is semi-hard with a minimum ageing period of 120 days but can easily reach up to a year. Its flavour is still delicate but slightly fruitier.
Don’t ask which one is better. They’re both incredibly versatile and complementary.
So, not only did this Pecorino gang get to experience the cheesemaking process – they also got to EAT! You can’t go to Italy without a cooking lesson, right? Thanks to Donati Restaurant, these folks learned how to use Pecorino Toscano in a variety of dishes like Ricotta Pecora Tortelli – an everyday Tuscan soup with tomatoes, chard, poached egg and Pecorino.
Like we said, no need for FOMO. Afrim Pristine of Cheese Boutique is gracing Toronto with 850kg of Pecorino Toscano straight from San Martino Formaggi, arriving at the end of October. Not all heroes wear capes! And if you can’t wait, Cheese Boutique already has some bangin’ Pecorino Toscanos in stock.