Cheese of the Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.
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Gorgonzola is one of the world’s most popular and well-known cheeses. This blue beauty comes in two varieties, Dolce and Piccante, and while there are about 40 producers of the cheese, true Gorgonzola can only be produced in two Italian regions: Lombardy and Piemonte.
Gorgonzola traces its roots back to the Italian village of — where else? — Gorgonzola, which was a natural resting place in the spring and autumn for herds of cows making their way from one Lombardy alpine pasture to another. Local farmers milked the cows, and combined the resulting cheese with a natural strain of Penicillium Glaucum that was plentiful in the area. And Gorgonzola was born.
In order to make Gorgonzola, one of two methods of production is used. In the two-day curd method, curd from the previous day is added into the mix in order to inoculate it with the culture, and in the one-day curd method, which is much more popular, the curd is inoculated with the culture on the day it’s made.
After about a month in the cave, the wheels are pierced with copper needles. This allows air to penetrate into the cheese, and the familiar blue veins develop shortly thereafter. In order to preserve moisture, the cheeses are then wrapped in foil before being left to mature for three to six months.
Gorgonzola Dolce is a younger version and is softer and sweeter, and Piccante is more traditional and mature, and is firmer and a bit sharper.
"This is a good starter blue," Hook told us. "It’s not super-powerful, but is still incredibly flavorful. There’s a mushroomy, umami quality to it, but it’s not super-peppery, not a kick in the pants."
Gorgonzola is a great addition to any cheese plate, but Hook recommends crumbling it over a grilled steak, and washing it down with a robust Italian red.