Cheese-making in the Veneto region
The Veneto region, easily accessible by cheap flights, is famed for its varied and diverse cuisine, which is regarded as amongst the finest in Italy. Veneto is the home of tiramisu, a dessert made out of wine, coffee and mascarpone cheese. This has been exported across the world and highlights the fine art of cheese-making which exists in the area.
One of the most famous cheeses in Veneto is Monte Veronese. Made from cow’s milk, it is traditionally made in the northern part of Verona Province. It comes in two types, a fresh and a matured version. The former has a strong yet sweet flavour, borne from its brief aging period and its manufacture from whole milk. The latter has a spicy and piquant palette, derived from a longer aging process and the skimmed milk from which it is made. This is called 'd'allevo' locally and is famed for its pale colour and high number of holes.
Piave is made around the river of the same name in the Belluno area of Veneto. It is a dense, sweet tasting cheese which has a delicious yellow colour. The aging process hardens the cheese, maturing the flavour and making it ideal for grating on pastas. It also works well with risotto and polenta, whilst rich white wines provide an excellent accompaniment.
Grana Padano is one of the most famous Italian cheeses and is considered one of the world’s first hard cheese varieties. It is grainy in texture and is sold in three ripening stages depending upon the length of time the cheese has been left to mature. “Grana Padano” is traditionally left for between nine and 16 months to develop a creamy taste. "Grana Padano oltre 16 mesi" is more crumbly and has a richer flavour, whilst "Grana Padano Riserva", which is left for over 20 months, is extremely grainy, crumbly and mature.
The same is the case for the Asiago cheese, which changes texture depending on its age. The more mature it becomes, the crumblier it develops, with the older cheese having a similar taste to Parmesan. The fresh cheese is a popular choice in paninis, whilst the mature version is commonly found in salads, soups and pasta dishes.
All four of these cheeses are readily available in Italy, particularly at local farmers’ markets where the highest quality can be purchased. Many more can also be discovered in this region. They make an ideal supplement to many local dishes, as well as a delicious dessert in their own right. Combining them with local wines comes highly recommended for a full-scale Veneto meal.
Meanwhile, if you're staying in one of the region's Best Hotels and would like to visit some local cheese factories (caseificio), the Asiago region is the best area to choose.