Final Cheese!Of!The!Day!: Robiola di Roccaverano

It's made from cow's, goat's and sheep's milk; the one I bought was very young and very moist. It is one of many, many robiolas available in this area; this one is name protected, which ensures uniformity in the production process. It was recommended by both the Official Guest Cheese Commentator of these games, Steven Jenkins, and by the owner of the Alpine Hut of Cheese.

Here's my final homage to Google translator:

Cheese without stagionatura neither maturation, absolutely fresh, of cylindrical shape, rather fat, product with latte vaccine, of goat and sheep, coming from from two mungiture to the day.

Here's a better one:

It is milky-white in colour, and the aroma and taste are delicate, savoury and slightly sour.

Serving suggestions here:

Consumed fresh, it is excellent if flavoured with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil, perhaps accompanied by a dry white table wine. The aged variety on the other hand goes well with sweet dessert wines. It also makes an excellent filling for cooking pastries or souffles.

To me the smell is wonderful, the epitome of freshness. My tasters' comments were lame; they are all tired, and they are watching the Closing Ceremonies (Avril Lavigne will perform soon), and they are out of cheese words. Libby Copeland said it tasted like wine. Mike Wise said it was the Cadillac of goat cheeses. Liz Clarke said it was so bland she didn't have a response.

I think it's irrestitable, especially that fresh smell and the fresh, tart flavor. I said to the office, "It smells like life." They all laughed at me.

I also had a cheese called bruss. Steven Jenkins had told me to find some. Here's how he described it:

Ask also if the Hut features a homemade "bruss", or "bross" (Piemontese dialect referring to the brush used to whip the curd in its colander-like container in order to release its whey). Bruss is a cheese spread made from dribs and drabs of cheeses lying about. They are shredded, combined with fresh milk (in order to re-coagulate the shreds), and usually some cognac, grappa or white wine. The mass is left in a cool place for a week or so before it is stirred (brushed) exactly twelve revolutions. These twelve-revolution brushings are repeated on the 15th day, the 28th day, the 35th day and the 45th day. This batch of bruss will be ready for the table in seven weeks. It's pretty sharp. Obviously an acquired taste, but once you've been bitten by bruss, believe me, you crave it. Crusty shards of bread and a funky piece of cutlery to spread the stuff and you're off to the races.

The Alpine Hut of Cheese does indeed make a bruss, but they said it wouldn't be ready until April. They sell a small jar of bruss that is made by a personal friend of the shop's owner. I figured why not.

The smell is pungent, especially as it gets to room temperature. The taste is the smell, magnified. It is a sharpness that lingers, a sharpness that heads up into your sinuses and sears your taste buds's collective memories. Sally Jenkins, easily the best cheese taster in the office, refused to try it. The taste made me shudder a few times, although I would eat it again. "Once you've been bitten," and all.

Since Steven Jenkins writes so well, and since so many people love cheese, here are his other recommendations:

Go back to the Alpine Cheese Hut, or however you referred to it, and ask again for Bettelmatt, the highly esteemed member of the "toma" family. Toma is an Alpine dialect word, as is the French Savoyard "tomme", which refers to a usually sizeable, round and thick disk of cheese coming from these westerly Alpine regions Piemonte and Savoie. But more importantly the word implies if not promises that the cheese was made by a cheesemaking specialist as opposed to having been made by a farmer who simply produces more milk than can be drunk or sold. Bettelmatt is a supreme example of a foodstuff that should have succumbed to the ravages of modernity decades ago. I remind you that the unique flavor of Bettelmatt is a direct link to a dominant herb called mottolina that grows wild in the pastures of Piemonte's high Val d'Ossola. This is a stoner's cheese supreme.

Robiola del Bec, referring to the fact that in October and November, when this ancient cheese is made, the does (female goats of the Acqui area) are being constantly hit on and certainly frequently nailed by the reigning he-goat of the season. This amorousness results in a riotous mammolactation on the part of the she-goat; she delivers extraordinarily rich milk at this time from which we derive the robiola named for the marauding, sex-crazed buck. Yet another example of males taking credit for female prowess, for stuff the male of the species had little to do with.

Of the innumerable robiola cheeses made throughout Piemonte, look for di Ceva and Mondovi (my favorite -- custardy, white truffle-y) as well as the famous, goat's milk, DOP (name-controlled) Roccaverano.

See above on that last one, obviously. And once again, buy Steven Jenkins's awesome book. And next time you go to your local cheese counter, try something you've never had before. Even if it's called bruss.

By Dan Steinberg |  February 26, 2006; 3:01 PM ET
Previous: Shopping, and pin hatred, and nonsense words | Next: My Official Perfect Final Moment of the Olympics

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Just have to let you know how much I've loved the 'cheese of the day' feature. Much more than the Olympics, actually! I wish the Post would send you around the world in search of more exciting new cheeses, and make it a permanent feature online. Heck, I'd even pay to read it.

Posted by: ML | February 26, 2006 03:37 PM

You've been doing a great job on this blog! Thank you!

Posted by: Massimiliano from Alessandria, Piemonte | February 26, 2006 04:36 PM

Thank you, thank you! This blog has been the best part of the Olympics. I hope you get a big raise. I'm really going to miss this. Now on to March Madness (Bear Down Arizona...yeah I know, probably not our year...).

Posted by: Burke, VA | February 26, 2006 04:44 PM

Re Dan Steinberg's blog: Boring isn't hip. it's just boring.

Posted by: Twiss Butler | March 1, 2006 12:24 AM

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