What is Gorgonzola?
Gorgonzola is a blue- veined Italian cheese made from unskimmed cow's milk. Eponymously named after the town from which it originated, gorgonzola is crumbly, with a creamy-crumbly texture and a mild, buttery flavour that becomes more complex as it ages. There are two types of gorgonzola which are determined by the length of time it is aged; gorgonzola dolce is much milder and creamier than gorgonzola piccante and are easily distinguished by the colour and quantity of interspersed veins; gorgonzola dolce has a blue tint to its marbling whereas the piccante variety’s meandering streaks are greener.
Gorgonzola is produced in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, a renowned cheese-making haven where other formaggio Italiano such as Taleggio, Bel Paese and Grana Padano also originate from. It is said that gorgonzola was created as early as the year 879 by cowherders who would move their cattle to pasture through the Valsassina mountain valley by way of the only passable route, stopping in small villages along the way. The cowherders would leave milk with their hosts as a gift for their hospitality, from which stracchino, a very mild and creamy cheese would be made. The locals soon discovered that if their fresh stracchino was left in the natural caves of the surrounding mountainous area, the blue streaks of edible mould would develop, creating an entirely new cheese: gorgonzola.
The popularity of the cheese grew as the cowherders would pass back through the mountain villages several months later, taking the gorgonzola with them as they ventured back to pastures on the other side of the Valley. Nowadays, with the surge in demand gorgonzola production can primarily be found in the Po Valley, near Milan and other provinces throughout Lombardy and Piedmonte. Since gorgonzola is a D.O.P product (Protected Designation of Origin) regulated and protected by the government and other organisational bodies, any blue cheese made outside of these areas cannot legally be labelled or recognised as gorgonzola.
What does it pair with?
If eaten on its own or with crackers, Gorgonzola's classic accompaniments are sweet, caramelised onions and other conserves such as marmalade and honey or fruit like figs, pears or apples.
La Cantina (wine cellar)
Much like its food pairing, taleggio can be eaten alongside both white and red wines. If hosting a cheese and wine evening, spread a generous slice of gorgonzola dolce onto crisp sourdough alongside fresh grapes and a full-bodied red wine such as Barolo or Nebbiolo is a delightful pairing.
Equally, if creating a rich, creamy gorgonzola sauce for pasta or fondue, a white wine such as Pinot Bianco or Gavi are a safe and delicious bet.
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