Grating cheese

Asiago ~ Modern Asiago is produced from fat-free cow's milk. It has a grayish rind and pale bone-to-amber interior that is supple but slice-able. The flavor is nutty and has a slightly lemony aftertaste. As it ages, the interior hardens and the flavor grows stronger and more tangy. One year, the interior is the color of honey. Two years, the interior is the color of toffee, the cheese becomes brittle and intensely flavored. Asiago Fresco is the perfect snack cheese to accompany salami and crusty Italian bread. Asiago Fresco pairs well with light fruity Reds. Aged Asiago is best with Italian reds such as Barolo, Chianti or Sangiovese. Serve with figs, grapes, apples and pears, nuts, salami, pasta and olives.

Cotija~ Known as "The Parmesan of Mexico" it was originally made with goat's milk. Modern Cotija is made with cow's milk. Cotija is firm and strongly flavored, perfect for grating. Great on top of refried beans, chili, salad or Mexican Lasagna-try it with your favorite mac n' cheese recipe. Serve Cotija with Sangria or Beaujolais, avocados, pears and apples, or simply scoop some up with a tortilla and refried beans.

Dry Jack~ is a raw-milk hard cheese. The rind is rubbed with oil, cocoa and pepper. The interior is deep yellow and hard, it's flavor sweet and fruity with a hint of wine. Dry Jack can be used in place of Parmigiano-Reggiano-give it a try with your next Italian Dish. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc complement Dry Jack Cheese. Sample with Medjool dates, melon, chutney, prosciutto, roasted almonds and crusty Sourdough Bread.

Parmesan ~ should have a yellow interior with a grainy, flaky texture. The flavor is fruity with a salty tang. If your Parmesan is labeled "vechia" this means it has been aged for two years, "stravecchio" means it has been aged 20 months. Grate Parmesan at room temperature, on top of soups, pasta and rice. Great with Polenta and veggie dishes. Parmesan enjoys the company of Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon. Serve with pesto, prosciutto, pasta, olives, figs and melon.

Romano ~ is a sheep's milk cheese. It has a natural white to yellow rind and white to pale yellow interior. The flavor is salty with a touch of nuttiness and lemony tang. Romano tastes sharper and is more assertive than Parmesan with a slightly higher fat content. Romano shows well with Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Try shaving Romano to serve with peaches, melon, figs, Greek olives, pepperoncini, marinated vegetables such as mushrooms, and crusty Italian Bread.

Chabichou~ is a small, slightly cone-shaped goat's-milk cheese from the Poitou region of France. Chabichou has a firm and creamy texture with a fresh ground-nut flavor.

Idiazabal~ is made from ewe's milk and is produced all over the Basque country of Spain. Most often this cheese is smoked giving the hard rind a golden brown color, the smoke flavor gently permeates the cheese accenting the nutty flavor.

Manchego~ Another Spanish cheese made with ewe's milk, Manchego is sweet and mild with a slight salty nut taste. Manchego has a dark, straw-colored rind that retains the elaborate pattern of the cheese press. Depending on the age of this cheese, the color ranges from white to slightly yellow with an even distribution of small holes. Manchego comes from the Spanish region of La Mancha.

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre~ Known for it's truncated pyramid shape this French goat's milk cheese boasts flavors of tarragon and white wine, it's interior texture creamy.

Valencay~ Both commercial and farm versions of this goat's milk cheese are made in the Poitou region of France. The creamy cheese has an artificially promoted bloomy rind, while the farm cheese is natural and charcoal-dusted. The interior is smooth, white and moist when young. With age it hardens to a shredding consistency. Valencay has an intense aroma and an undistinguished salty flavor.

Mahon~ is a fruity Spanish cheese with a sweet and nutty aroma. It is a cow's milk cheese who's taste is buttery sharp and slightly salty. It hails from the Balearic island of Menorca.

Montasio~ Crafted in the Friuli region north of Venice, Montasio's rind is grayish-beige. Montasio has a pale yellow interior that is dotted with small holes. It has a mellow, fruity taste with a hint of pineapple. Originally made from sheep's milk, Montasio is most often made with cow's milk.

Ricotta Salata~ this is an aged Ricotta cheese. The natural aging process produces a hard, pungent cheese with a white interior and smooth texture. Ricotta Salata has a mild, nutty and slightly salty flavor and is Sicilian in origin. Contributed by DiB's


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