I must admit, I am just a little frightened as I progress down this road of “Mountain Cheese.” Fontina is my third in this family, and I have panned the first two. Maybe it’s just me? Maybe Mountain cheese is amazing, and it’s my uncouth taste buds that are failing to appreciate its superior quality. Really, who am I to judge a cheese? I buy shredded Tex-Mex from Costco. This is the type of existential angst an early morning cheese blogger faces-then extinguishes via blogging (hopefully).
Today’s cheese, Fontina d’Aosta, is a raw milk cow’s cheese from Italy- specifically the Valley (Valle) d”Aosta. This cheese is marked DOP which means “Denominazione di Origine Protetta”, or Protected Designation of Origin. This is kind of a geographical copyright that guarantees that the milk of the cheese and production are from a certain location in Italy. It also guarantees that the production methods are traditional, and that storage guidelines are followed so that the cheese is aged correctly. Wow, who knew? You see, and a Costco Tex Mex buyer just can’t really touch that, this is my fundamental problem.
Fontina is another ancient cheese, and has been made in the Alps since the 12th century. Think about that, 900 years of cheese. Being such a popular cheese, it is made in many other countries, but if it doesn’t have that DOP label, it’s just a wannabe, like mall kiosk Uggs without the label.
My famous ancient DOP Fortina sits on my desk beside me. The Chihuahua eyes it up, but being Mexican and canine, she is also feeling under qualified to try this cheese-although she is game. It has a pale yellow interior, getting darker at the edges before ending in a light brown rind. There are tiny bubbles in the cheese body. The smell is faint, very faint. When I bring the cheese right up to my nose it smells a little sexy, yet subtle. As though it’s had a fabulous afternoon, but then just showered.
Alright, this is a Mountain Cheese I can get into. It’s kind of meaty, it’s substantial. It tastes like the love child of sunshine and mushrooms. There is a funky little fungi flavour that works for me. The texture is perfect-tensile, chewy and melty-no hint of paste whatsoever. I feel this cheese would love to be on a hunk of baguette and I would love to fulfill that need for my dear little Fontina-alas, I am a purist.
Fontina D’Aosta, I give you a 5 out of 5. Really, it’s a 4, but with a bonus mark for restoring my faith in Mountain Cheese. Yum!