You may have noticed that I have never mentioned the word pairings here on this blog-nor have I suggested a beverage that might be nice with a certain cheese. I recognize that many of you may find this an egregious over site, and it is. Here’s the truth: I don’t drink alcohol. Isn’t that strange! It’s not that I am opposed to it at all, in fact, I positively adore it- but it doesn’t adore me. As well, I usually write the first thing in the morning, so even if I did drink-that might be a little dodgy, even for me. However, I do appreciate that I am in a strange and suspicious minority of teetotallers. To those of you who imbibe and love cheese I offer this suggestion-start with the cheese and then look for the wine pairing, not the other way around. This is because cheese is more precious and perfect than wine, and should always be the most important. There are so many cheeses and so many wines, that you could get really lost in the endless permutations and combinations. Just start with the cheese people! This message was brought to you by cheese.
Speaking of cheese, today we return to Italy, a country that truly loves its cheese. Piave is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese. The milk for Piave comes from summer milk of cows grazing by the Piave river. Piave comes in three different varieties, young, old and super old. Mine is the “Veccio”-or old Piave, although not the oldest. It also comes in Oro-or Gold. Piave just received DOP status, bravo Piave! That means all Piave is the real thing. Good work. This is actually significant as it’s a relatively new cheese, invented in the 1960’s. To be recognized as an important and protected cheese at this relatively young age is pretty cool.
Speaking of being cool, Piave is kind of unique. It’s made from the milk collected in two milkings. The evening milk’s cream is skimmed and then mixed with the morning milk, so it’s extra creamy and sweet, and who doesn’t like that? While only registered in 1960, it is actually a descendent of ancient cheese-making techniques in this area. Mountains, cows and Italians just can’t help themselves. Great things happen with this combination.
Piave is all made at the Lattebushce dairy co-op which is in Northern Italy. They have a pretty flashy website at www.lattebusche.it. Alas, it is in Italian, which is understandable. I wish I was able to read it, as the net is pretty light with information about the exact source or history of this specific cheese.
Virtually every other reference to Piave on the net compares it to Parmesan-Reggiano, the behemoth of hard Italian cheeses. Piave clearly lives in the shadow of greatness. Statements like, “if you can’t get Parmesan, try Piave,” or, “if you are tired of Parmesan, try Paive” or, “similar to Parmesan, but lacking the crunch is Piave.” And it just makes me a little sad for Piave. It doesn’t seem to have any fans of its own. Clearly though, someone’s eating it- it’s stayed in production for 50 years despite not being the great one, so it must have some redeeming qualities.
My slice of Piave is just as special and pretty as any parmesan. God, I must stop anthropomorphizing cheese. It is quite a large and robust looking cheese. It’s firm, but not crumbly, and doesn’t look to have any crystallization. In the larger round I would see the word “Piave” imprinted in the rind-but I can’t see it here. The rind is thin and unremarkable. The smell is mild but yummy, it holds promise of good things, but has no sharp or nasty notes.
Mmmmm. Extremely yummy. It’s fruity and butterscotchy. A wonderful balance of sweet, salt and umani. Thanks for that extra hit of evening cream, Piave makers! There’s no hint of barn, or ammonia or even that weird alcohol taste I find in some French Mountain cheese. It’s just chilled out and round flavoured and totally edible. I think even my husband-who has a strong cheese phobia- would like this one. It’s tame. Very tame, but not lame-let me make the distinction. It’s in perfect balance. The texture is also great, it’s not like a parmesan at all-it’s more like a cheddar-in fact, that’s what it reminds me of. I’m not sure where all this parmesan comparison is coming from. I wouldn’t grate this cheese, there’s no need. It’s chewy and has a nice tensile paste and just begs you to snack on it, really, it does!.
I really dig this Piave and would definitely eat it again if looking for a hard snacking cheese. OMG, it’s freaking addicitive-get it away from me!