Preparation and serving methods
If cheese is to be enjoyed at its best, it needs to be treated with respect. When it comes to opening a new wheel or truckle and cutting portions of cheese, there are a few simple rules that will help to bring out all of the flavours and aromas. There is a real art to cutting cheese.
The character of the rind is important. For instance, if the exterior is non-edible or has an excess of mould, it should be cleaned using a brush or scraper, and care should be taken when cutting to avoid dragging particles of rind through the interior paste. Different knives may be appropriate for different parts of a whole cheese, and it is important to produce a clean cut, without causing cracks and abrasions. We also need to consider the type of cheese we are cutting, and choose the best tool for the job.
Suitable for: cheeses made with Orobica goat’s milk, Agrì di Valtorta (Slow Food Presidium), Stracchino all’Antica delle Valli Orobiche (Slow Food Presidium), aged Gorgonzola (PDO), aged Strachitunt (PDO)
Knife for semi-hard cheeses, suitable for: Salva Cremasco (PDO) depending on age, Branzi, Formai de Mut dell’Alta Valle Brembana (PDO), Bitto (PDO), Provolone Valpadana (PDO)
Suitable for: cheeses made with Orobica goat’s milk, Agrì di Valtorta (Slow Food Presidium), Stracchino all’Antica delle Valli Orobiche (Slow Food Presidium)
Flared spatula or “Emmental” knife, with opening
Knife for semi-hard cheeses, suitable for: Formai de Mut dell’Alta Valle Brembana (PDO), Bitto (PDO)
Long, shallow-bladed knife
Knife for soft cheeses, suitable for: Taleggio (PDO), Salva Cremasco (PDO), Quartirolo Lombardo (PDO), Gorgonzola (PDO), Strachitunt (PDO)
“Parmesan” knife and hook
Knives for hard cheeses, suitable for: Grana Padano (PDO)
Wide, wheel-shaped whole cheeses such as Branzi and Formai de Mut dell’Alta Val Brembana (PDO)
With the cheese lying flat, cut it in half vertically using a double-handled knife.
Always cut new wedges from the same section of the cut whole cheese before starting on the remaining sections. This helps reduce the time the interior paste is exposed to the air. Cut horizontally for soft cheeses, and vertically for taller cylinders. To obtain tasting portions, cut each wedge into smaller pieces.
Taglio orizzontale per pasta morbida e verticale per forme a scalzo alto.
La porzione da degustazione si ottiene tagliando la singola fetta in più parti.
Small, cylindrical truckles, such as aged and semi-aged goat’s cheeses
Taller, cylindrical cheeses, such as Gorgonzola (PDO), should be cut in half horizontally with a cut parallel to the flat top and bottom. Shallower cylindrical truckles up to 10-15 cm in height, meanwhile, should be cut directly into wedges. Usually, for cheeses such as Bitto (PDO), Formai de Mut dell’Alta Val Brembana (PDO), Branzi and Strachitunt (PDO), it is better to cut the wheel into two half circles, set one half aside wrapped in film and cut wedges from the other half as needed. For tasting, each wedge is cut into smaller pieces with rind at the two smaller edges. Similarly, Agrì di Valtorta and fresh Orobica goat’s cheeses should be cut into 4 wedges (or 8 for tasting).
Smaller, square whole cheeses, such as goat’s milk stracchino
Ideally, square and rectangular cheeses such as Taleggio (PDO), Stracchino all’Antica delle Valli Orobiche, Quartirolo Lombardo (PDO), Salva Cremasco (PDO) and the smaller, Orobica goat’s milk Taleggio should be cut diagonally from corner to corner, and then into triangular prisms. More commonly, however, they are cut into square quarters, and then into slices, even though this means the last pieces have a lot of rind. For tasting, each slice should be cut into little rectangles with at most 1.5 cm of rind on the shorter sides.
Square whole cheeses such as Taleggio (PDO), Quartirolo Lombardo (PDO) and Stracchino all’Antica delle Valli Orobiche
After cutting, the two remaining pieces can be stored with the cut surfaces touching to avoid the soft, inner past from oozing.
Grana Padano (PDO)
For grana-type cheeses, after the whole cheese has been cut in half vertically, take one of the halves and cut it again horizontally, midway down the curved side to obtain a shallower, semi-circular 1/4 cheese. This can then be cut into wedges of 1/8 and then 1/16 of the whole, which in turn can be portioned out, or “chiselled” in to small pieces.
Provolone Valpadana (PDO)
Portioning in wedges and then sliced.
Portioning in slices and then in wedges.
The Gorgonzola PDO. it is cut in half, horizontally, with the wire. Then proceed with sliced portioning.