With so many wonderful regional specialities, it’s a hard choice to make, but these five formaggi could rival cheeseboards from anywhere in the world…
1. Mozzarella di bufala Campania
It may seem controversial to place mozzarella above Parmigiano Reggiano, but few could argue that this luxurious, creamy delight now has an unassailable place in kitchens worldwide, and its fame far outreaches its status as a pizza topping.
The bagged variety we often see in the shops doesn’t match up to the ‘real McCoy’ with the ‘Bufala di Campana’ mark, but even these supermarket-bought options are getting better and better. To appreciate Mozzarella fully, go native and spend time in Campania to sample the authentic milky globes that crop up at parlours across the countryside. A taste of this cheese with ripe, sliced plum tomatoes, a sprinkling of torn basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is pleasure incarnate.
2. Parmigiano Reggiano Emilia Romagna
To many cheese-lovers, this is the king of Italian formaggi. Parmesan (as it’s known in English) must come from within a restricted area to be considered authentic.
With its grainy texture, nutty aroma and rich umami flavour, there are few who could disagree that a grating of this punchy hard cheese will enhance almost any pasta dish…
3. Gorgonzola Lombardy
This blue cheese is one of the world’s gutsiest. Hailing from its namesake town in Lombardy, gorgonzola adds delicious piquancy to risotto and pasta dishes – you can also use it instead of stilton in many recipes!
The mould produced while maturing in damp caves creates the trademark tang.
4. Pecorino Romano Sardinia
This moreish hard cheese made from sheep’s milk is gaining ground on its better-known big brother, Parmesan.
As with most varieties of cheese, you’ll find that young, fresh Pecorino is softer and lighter, while the more aged varieties are harder, with a salty bite.
5. Ricotta Romana Lazio
Delicious in sweet pastries, with savoury pies and pastas, or a hunk of bread, this plump, creamy cheese made from whey is truly luscious.
The best ricotta finds has a rich, silky smooth consistency and a delicate flavour with just a hint of sweetness.
Find more cheesy inspiration and recipes here