Cheesy quick tips
; Store cheeses in the lower portion of
the fridge. Wrap wedges tightly with
; A vegetable peeler is handy for shaving hard wedge cheeses.
; Avoid freezing cheese, as it diminishes the flavor.
; Serve cheese at room temperature to
allow its full flavor to bloom.
; Each type of DOP Italian cheese has a
signature pin-dot pattern on the rind
that bears its name. Purchasing a
wedge with this rind still intact shows
consumers that it was cut from an
By Hana Medina
ITALIAN CHEESES COME in a wide range
of tastes and textures, but two hard varieties,
Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano,
are among top favorites at our dinner tables.
The Connection dug in to find out what makes
these cheeses standout selections.
First off, Parmigiano Reggiano and
Pecorino Romano have been handmade for
centuries by master cheesemakers. And
authenticity is a big deal. In Italy, cheese
producers must follow strict
regulations in order to use
those names on their products. These regulations, referred to as Denominazione
di origine protetta (DOP) in
Italian, specify the geographical region where the
cows are raised, where the
milk is collected and where
the cheese is produced.
Each cheese has its own
consortium (or consorzio)
that monitors quality
throughout the entire chain.
“Only the best-quality
[cheeses] are going to bear that DOP stamp, the
consorzio seal and the Italian cheese name,” says
Melissa Shore, marketing director for Arthur
Schuman, a Costco Italian cheese importer.
Costco Buyer Curtis Adamson says,
“Even quality within the DOP can vary, so we
have partners who help us select the best of
the best for our Kirkland Signature™
Parmigiano Reggiano and Kirkland Signature
Parmigiano Reggiano and
Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio
Type of milk: Cow
Flavor profile: Fruits, nuts, slightly salty
Don’t be fooled: The word “Parmesan” is
not regulated in the U.S. as Parmigiano
Reggiano is in Italy. “Parmesan” can be made
in a number of ways, resulting in products
that vary in quality, color, flavor and texture.
To qualify as Parmigiano Reggiano, the
cows must be raised and the cheese produced
in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena or specific
areas of Bologna and Mantua. The geograph-
ical areas in which the cows are raised greatly
affect the flavor profile of the cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio is the
same cheese as Parmigiano Reggiano, but it is
aged for 36 months, com-
pared to Parmigiano
Reggiano’s 24. “Stravecchio
actually means ‘extra-aged’
in Italian,” says Shore. It has
richer flavors of fruits and
nuts and is drier in texture
than its younger counterpart.
Uses: Don’t just top salads
and pastas with this cheese;
eat a slice with nuts, figs, jams,
dried fruits, pears and straw-
berries. Drizzle with balsamic
vinegar or honey. Use the rind
to flavor sauces and soups and
to infuse olive oils.
Drink pairings: Dry Italian red wines:
Nebbiolo-based and Sangiovese-based reds;
California Zinfandel or Syrah-based red wines;
crisp beers, such as lager or Pilsner, medium-bodied amber ales or Belgian-style beers.
Type of milk: Sheep
Flavor profile: Piquant, salty
This sheep’s-milk cheese has been a hit
since ancient Rome. Today, it’s produced
mostly in Sardinia and is governed under DOP
regulations by a Pecorino Romano consorzio.
The cheese wheels are covered in salt as
they cure to help create the intense flavor, and
are aged a minimum of nine months. There is
a bit of seasonality to this item; the herds
raised for this cheese only lactate between
The Costco Connection
Costco carries wedges of Kirkland Signature
Parmigiano Reggiano, Parmigiano Reggiano
Stravecchio and Pecorino Romano, in
addition to shredded Kirkland Signature
Parmigiano Reggiano; whole wheels can be
found on Costco.com.
for your table
COURTESY OF CONSORZIO DEL FORMAGGIO PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO
October and July, which limits when Pecorino
Romano can be produced.
Shore says a little goes a long way with this
cheese. “If you grate just a little of the wedge,
it’s got a kick to it,” she notes. “You may not
need to season your dish quite as much.”
Uses: Grate over French fries, grilled vegetables, soup and pasta; pair with olives, fig jams
Drink pairings: Côtes du Rhône, sauvignon blanc, Brunello di Montalcino and
“Only the best-
are going to bear
that DOP stamp,
the consorzio seal
and the Italian