What is Bel Paese?
Bel Paese can be easily labelled as the cheese which best described its place of origin as its name literally translates to “beautiful country”. Originally invented in the early 1900’s by the Galbani Cheese Company in Lombardy. More specifically it was Egidio Galbani, a master in cheese innovation, who wanted to create a rival product to compete with the popular French Alpine cheeses (which melted like dream) such as raclette and reblochon. Once Galbani had found the perfect recipe for his new product, he took inspiration for the name from a book by Antonio Stoppani published in 1873 called “Il Bel Paese”, which explores the beauties of the Italian landscape and how it is effected by geology and geography, and named his cheese the same thereafter.
Bel Paese cheese is made from pasteurised cow’s milk and is pale yellow in colour with a semi-soft texture peppered with minute holes. The flavour is mild and buttery, much like the flavour profile of mozzarella with its own unique sweet tang to finish.
How is Bel Paese made?
Once the cultures are added to the milk to begin the curd-forming & ageing processes, the cheese is exposed to a comparatively high temperature for cheese-making (around 40°C) and it is this which gives a firmer, more elastic texture of cheese, despite its high moisture content. Bel Paese is then left for mature for a short period of time, around 6-8 weeks, forming a very light natural rind around the outside.
What do you eat Bel Paese with?
Bel Paese is an extremely versatile cheese. It can be easily melted so is sometimes used instead of mozzarella on pizza or casseroles. It is equally delicious when sliced and served with bread such as ciabatta with a generous slathering of chutney or alongside crispy grissini sticks. It is also highly recommended alongside fruit such as ripe figs and cantaloupe melon.
There are also several ways you can incorporate Bel Paese into your pasta dishes, for example why not try: