Though Taleggio is a staple at many cheese counters and shops, I can’t say I’ve had much experience with it until now. Perhaps a taste here and there, but I’m pretty sure I never bought a wedge of the Italian cow’s-milk cheese until last week. (I did buy some American-made Taleggio a few months ago at France 44, but you’re going to have to wait to hear that review.) What a pity — this raw-milk cheese is so tasty that it should be a regular in any cheese lover’s rotation.

Taleggio, which originates from the Bergamo region of Italy, is a washed-rind cheese, but those who are afraid of stinkies shouldn’t shy away from it. While it has the yeasty smell of a Red Hawk, the taste is much lighter and milder. The paste ranges in color from white to pale yellow and may feature small holes, and the rind is a blushing pink. If you buy a wedge and the color seems off, bring it back to your shop for an exchange – no one deserves rancid cheese!

Light Italian red wines are a recommended match for Taleggio; Wine Spectator suggests a Lambrusco. Other pleasing accompaniments include apples or pears, and the Consorzio Tutela Taleggio (the union of Italian Taleggio producers) says it is particularly suited to gratins. I can’t argue with the union. Who doesn’t love cheese and potatoes?

{Stay tuned for more Vermont cheese reviews, including some exquisite washed rind cheeses in the Taleggio style.}

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