What is Cacio Faenum? A Taste of Italy’s Countryside

Cacio Faenum (ITALY) - Cheese Origin

Cacio Faenum is a hidden gem from the heart of Italy’s countryside. This artisanal cheese, whose name translates to ‘Hay Cheese’, is a celebration of rural tradition and culinary craftsmanship. Made from the milk of sheep who graze on lush, herb-filled pastures, Cacio Faenum is aged in hay, giving it a distinctive, earthy flavor profile that truly encapsulates a taste of Italy’s bucolic landscapes. Every bite is a journey through rolling meadows and rustic farmlands, making Cacio Faenum more than just a cheese, but a sensory experience of Italy’s rich rural heritage.

Quick Facts About Cacio Faenum

Country of OriginItaly
RegionCastellina, Emilia-Romagna
Age2 to 4 months
Weight1.5 to 2 kg (3.5 lb – 4.5 lb)
MilkSheep’s milk
AromaWild flowers, fresh, grasses of the alpine meadows
TasteNutty, sweet, herbaceous
PairingGrate over pasta dishes, pears & green figs
Beverage pairingPinot Grigio, Ribolla
ProducerL’Antica Cascina

What is Cacio Faenum?

Cacio Faenum is a remarkable cheese that hails from the charming Italian town of Castellina. This dairy delight, produced by L’Antica Cascina, is a testament to the rich and diverse cheese-making traditions of Italy. Crafted from raw sheep’s milk, Cacio Faenum is not your run-of-the-mill cheese. What sets it apart is its unique maturation process, where it is lovingly cradled in hay during its ripening, akin to a culinary lullaby that imparts the cheese with its distinctive qualities.

This traditional, hard cheese undergoes a careful aging process, lasting anywhere from 45 to 60 days. During this time, the cheese absorbs the aromatic nuances of the hay, resulting in a complex flavor profile that is as intriguing as it is delicious. The result is a cheese that boasts a beautiful balance of taste and texture, making Cacio Faenum a sought-after addition to any gourmet cheese board.

With its 23.6 grams of protein per portion, Cacio Faenum is not only a treat to the senses but also a nutritious addition to your diet. Its enticing flavor makes it an excellent companion to a variety of dishes, as seen in recipes such as Cacio Faenum with Baked Apricot and Almond Purée.

In summary, Cacio Faenum is more than just a cheese; it’s a sensory journey into the heart of Italian gastronomy. Its unique production process and delightful flavor profile make it a true gem within the world of cheese.

Cacio Faenum Tasting Notes

Cacio Faenum Tasting Notes
  • Texture: Cacio Faenum is a semi-hard cheese with a dense and slightly crumbly texture. It has a firm consistency that becomes more supple and creamy as it reaches room temperature.
  • Color: The cheese exhibits a natural, straw-like hue which is a direct reflection of the hay in which it’s aged. The rind is typically darker, almost golden, contrasting beautifully with the paler interior.
  • Aroma: A distinct yet subtle aroma is one of Cacio Faenum’s highlights. The scent is reminiscent of fresh hay, underpinned by mild notes of sheep’s milk and a hint of nuttiness.
  • Flavor: The taste of Cacio Faenum is complex and layered. It starts off mildly sweet with a slight tang, then develops into a deeper, earthy flavor, reflecting its hay-aging process. It ends with a lingering, pleasantly salty finish.
  • Aftertaste: The aftertaste of Cacio Faenum is long-lasting and memorable. It leaves a mild, sweet-savory note on the palate, encouraging another bite.
  • Serving Suggestions: To fully appreciate its flavors, Cacio Faenum should be served at room temperature. It’s perfect for grating over pasta, slicing onto salads, or simply enjoying as part of a cheese platter.

What Pairs Well With Cacio Faenum?

Food pairings:

Food CategorySpecific Foods
BreadsRustic Italian breads, Baguette, Sourdough
FruitsGrapes, Figs, Apples
VegetablesArugula, Spinach, Roasted Bell Peppers
MeatsProsciutto, Salami, Basil-fed Snails
SeafoodShrimp, Lobster, Crab
CondimentsExtra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Truffle Oil
Herbs and SpicesBasil, Thyme, Oregano, Black Pepper
NutsAlmonds, Walnuts, Pistachios
GrainsQuinoa, Farro, Couscous
PastaSpaghetti, Linguine, Penne, Ravioli
OthersPizza, Bruschetta, Caprese Salad

Also read: What Fruit Goes on a Charcuterie Board?

Drink pairings:

Beverage CategorySpecific Beverages
White WinesChardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc
Red WinesMerlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir
Sparkling WinesProsecco, Champagne, Cava
BeersPale Ales, Belgian Tripels, Wheat Beers
Non-AlcoholicApple Cider, Pear Juice, Grape Juice

Also read: Best Wine and Cheese Pairings: The Ultimate Guide

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