Friday, April 07, 2006

Gorgonzola – Sweet or Spicy, always a lady

The perfume permeates the air and conjures memories of that soft, voluptuous texture. A warm, persistent and satisfying embrace, velvety smooth and a distinct personality that accentuates instead of dominating. With age, the creamy white color becomes slightly darker, the supple texture transforms ever so slightly, perhaps dryer but sensual just the same, a more distinct personality arises still complimentary but less yielding. This could be the description of a beautiful woman but I am talking about Gorgonzola cheese.

I lived in Milan when I first arrived in Italy. I had seen fog before, in the early morning hovering just over the water but not expanding past the banks, on the Chattahoochee river during our 5 day tubing trips in the summer. Fog is prevalent in the early winter in Lombardia and I was fascinated. I would take the metro out to a little town called Gorgonzola outside the city at about 8:00 in the evening. The fog was so dense you could not see your outstretched hand. I felt like I was wrapped in an immense blanket.

Little did I know that I was in the reputed birthplace of a marvelous cheese. This is an antique cheese. The most reliable story indicates that it was first produced in 879 AD in the small town of Gorgonzola. Then it was called “Stracchino di Gorgonzola”. Over the years it became a synonym for Stracchino Verde, green aged cheese. It is thought that the method of production was brought back from the pre-Alps area when the herds returned to the flatlands after a summer in the cooler mountain regions.

Gorgonzola is produced widely in Lombardia and Piemonte but the largest quantities are produced in the town of Gorgonzola. Law dictates both the method and geography of production guaranteeing a certain uniformity of quality and taste. Gorgonzola is a favorite in England, Germany and France. The English prefer the sweet Gorgonzola while the French and Germans prefer the spicy Gorgonzola. The sweet Gorgonzola is young, soft, creamy and the green mold is less developed while the spicy Gorgonzola is aged, compact, with a distinct spicy flavor from the more developed green mold.

The US is quickly becoming one of the major markets for Gorgonzola with 350 tons sold in 2003. Unfortunately only the best stores have both the sweet and spicy versions. Most stores will have the spicy Gorgonzola because it has a longer shelf life. I prefer the sweet version of Gorgonzola, both as a standalone dish and for sauces and risotto. I would only use the spicy for salads.

As a standalone try the sweet Gorgonzola on a plate with a bit of honey on the side and fresh bread and a medium structured wine such as a Chianti or Rosso di Montalcino. The spicy Gorgonzola requires a more structured wine. In this case, Barbaresco, Barolo, or Brunello di Montalcino are appropriate.

Raffaella does many dishes with Gorgonzola; one of my favorites is Ravioli a Gorgonzola e Noci, or Ravioli with Gorgonzola and Walnuts.

The Consortium of Gorgonzola Producers will be present at the Fancy Food Tradeshow in New York from the 9th to the 11th of July, 2006.


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Blogger moderator said...

Gorganzola cheese is truly a gift from God. I have not had in a Ravioli dish, but I am now on the hunt for a recipe - the very thought is mouth watering!

And thanks for the wine tips - while no combination is really "wrong" a correct pairing can add so much enjoyment and make a feast of a simple meal!

7:34 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Divas - In the near future I will be publising Raffaella's Ravioli with walnut and gorgonzola.

Stay tuned.

8:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you found good imported Gorgonzola in Dallas? If so where? Ive seen some at Central Market but it was domestic.


8:33 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...


The Central Market in Plano has Sweet Gorgonzola most of the time.

In Dallas Jimmy's has Sweet Gorgonzola.

8:42 AM

Blogger a.c.t. said...

In the UK, it's always hard, but I absolutely adore the Gorgonzola, especially the soft and runny variety you get in Italy - with a piece of crusty bread, you can't beat it.

9:44 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ACT - I also prefer sweet Gorgonzola. I am somewhat amazed to learn that it is difficult to find. I was told that England is the #1 destination, after Italy, for sweet Gorgonzola.

10:46 AM

Blogger Tracie P. said...

oh what a little mold can do!!

3:26 PM

Blogger ChickyBabe said...

I love gorgonzola piccante. Nothing like it! And I use it in a combination of cheeses to stuff zucchini flowers.

10:48 PM

Blogger a.c.t. said...

Well I didn't know that either - I'll get on the case.

4:51 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Tracie b. & Chickybabe - I believe you can tell alot about people by the cheeses they love!

11:03 AM

Blogger Tracie P. said...

what can you tell about a person who loves ALL cheese?

3:34 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Most likely this person will have a great time with Raffaella and Myself! (I do not know if others would consider that a good thing or a bad thing)

3:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, after I made this Gorgonzola+Zucchini Flowers, I checked web site to see if there is any recipe out there, and found your web site. Well, I made this dish and it was great, and wanted to share with you. My web site is both in English and Japanese.
Here is the address for that particular dish.

I myself love Italy and Italian food. Planning to go there in June 2006 for a month and a half. When I have more time, I will check out your web site.

6:13 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Amy - I will definitely check it out. Fried zucchini and zucca flowers are a favorite in Italy.

I hope you have a great trip.

6:39 AM


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