I don’t watch Conan O’Brien much anymore, so I don’t know if he still does that “If They Mated” bit where he merges pictures of celebrities to see what their children would like. But if we played the “If They Mated” game with cheese and paired up Parmigiano-Reggiano with Cheddar, you’d get my cheese of the week – Piave Vecchio. Is this a good thing, you may ask? Oh, yes.

Piave Vecchio all dolled up for the holidays.

Piave Vecchio all dolled up for the holidays.

This mighty tasty cheese has a sweet, slightly grassy flavor that reminds you of the famous Italian grating cheese. But unlike Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is usually cut into rough chips, Piave Vecchio has a Cheddar-like consistency that can be sliced with ease. It also has a few crystals that make a delightful crunch in your mouth – not a ton, but enough to surprise you every couple of bites.

An aged cow’s-milk cheese, Piave Vecchio would be a distinguished addition to your holiday cheeseboard – it’s easy to enjoy, easy to pair with dried fruits and nuts and, unlike Parmigiano, you don’t need a chisel to cut yourself a piece. Pour a glass of fruity Merlot and go to town! It’s also great shaved on green salads (dress it with just lemon and a really good olive oil) or atop a pile of pasta.

Piave Vecchio is also a favorite of one of our favorite cheesemongers, Jill Erber of Cheesetique. For Jill’s take on “the easiest-to-prepare hors d’oeurves or snack in history,” check out the June 2007 Cheesetique e-newsletter.