The sun-soaked heel of Italy, Puglia already flirts with its sea of olive tree-studded countryside and hundreds of miles of unbelievable coastline. However, did you know that this agricultural-rich region is also responsible for some of the most heavenly cheeses in the world? We might be biased, and we certainly don’t want to “dis a brie”, but we have to admit that nothing comes close to the brilliance of these Pugliese cheeses.
If you’ve ever watched someone break into a tender ball of Burrata then you’ve seen the magic of this famous Pugliese cheese at work. While the cheese looks similar to mozzarella, a gentle slice of a knife will allow the rich, buttery insides to come flowing out. You may find this creamy cheese drizzled with olive oil and served alongside homemade bread, or for added decadence Burrata can also be piled high on pizza to concoct the dream comfort food.
This cheese holds a special place in our hearts. After all, our Adopt a Cow specialty box comes with locally sourced Caciocavallo Podolico cheese from one of our local farms. This rare Italian cheese is made from milk produced by Podolica cows that are fed a generous helping of herbs, resulting in herb-rich flavored milk that creates a rich cheese that needs years to ripen. This full-bodied cheese is the perfect blend of smoked spice and delicate fruitiness. Some restaurants will even dish out fried Caciocavallo cheese along with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. We can’t say enough about this life-changing cheese that you have to taste to believe.
Fallone di Gravina
A blend of sheep and goat’s milk, Fallone di Gravina is a delectable rind-less fromage that is soft and delicate but has a distinct spicy flavor. This cheese is almost always consumed on the very same day it was produced, meaning that you won’t find a Fallone di Gravina that’s fresher than in the region of Puglia. It also pairs quite nicely with a chilled glass of Martina Bianco DOP.
This one-of-a-kind soft cheese is Puglia’s take on ricotta. It’s created using cow, goat or sheep’s milk and two different cheese-making techniques that include curdling the milk. Traditionally produced in the spring, cacioricotta is flaky and delicate with the perfect hint of saltiness. It can be grated onto pizza, tomato-based pasta dishes and salads, or served with local bread and a full-bodied Primitivo.
This cheese really needs no introduction, but we’d be remiss not to mention it, since Puglia is one of the main producers of this pizza-loving cheese. This beloved and versatile cheese is actually rather simple to make since it doesn’t go through the same aging process that hard cheeses like Parmesan do. Once mozzarella is made it’s ready to eat, so you never have to wait too long (which we love to hear!). Mozzarella isn’t just for pizza, however. It also compliments salads, pasta, roasted vegetables and even fruits such as melons and pears.
Canestrato Pugliese DOP
Typical to the cities of Foggia and Bari, Canestrato is a dense and nutty pecorino-style cheese made from sheep’s milk. The cheese is aged anywhere from 3-10 months and offers a slight sweetness that becomes more prominent with age. This hard cheese is a popular table cheese, often grated over pears and raw vegetables, as well as soups, salads and pasta.
You remember the amazing creaminess that flows out of Burrata when you cut into it? Well, stracciatella cheese is that creamy filling, made from a blend of cream and strips of mozzarella cheese left over from mozzarella making. It’s easy to understand why anyone would love this perfectly creamy cheese, as it’s an incredibly versatile cheese. It can be added to pizza, pasta, bruschetta or just about any delicious Italian dish you can think of.
Pallone di Gravina
Not to be confused with Fallone di Gravina, Pallone di Gravina is a traditional cow’s milk cheese hailing from the town of Gravina. This cow’s milk cheese is shaped into balls, which once made it easy to transport on donkeys during the migration of livestock centuries ago. Today, this cheese is most often produced during the months of January and March, when the lush grass makes for more flavorful milk. Pallone di Gravina that has undergone a long maturation process offers hints of caramel and local herbs, which can compliment many Italian dishes or simply be enjoyed by itself with a bold red wine.
Giuncata is one of the oldest Pugliese cheeses. This soft delicate cow, goat or sheep’s milk cheese offers a hint of sweetness while also being low calorie. Giuncata requires a very simple preparation and is not salted or seasoned. This delightful table cheese should be enjoyed immediately after it’s produced, and you’ll often find it served with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly baked bread or vegetables such as fresh tomatoes and fennel. Pair it with a chilled rosé and your life with be forever changed.
Along with the ricotta-like Cacioricotta, Puglia is also known for making Ricotta Marzotica. Made between the months of February and April, this soft cheese can also be produced from cow, sheep or goat’s milk. Once the cheese is made it’s covered with local wild herbs to add a little extra flavor. This salted cheese is often served during Easter, particularly alongside a dish of broad beans. Of course, the light flavor and softness can also add a little extra decadence to vegetables, pasta and even desserts.
Stay tuned in the coming months for news about our new Spring FarmStay Tour in Puglia that will put the limelight on this region’s amazing cheeses. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic