What is Gorgonzola Piccante? Italy’s Sharp Blue Cheese Wonder

What is Gorgonzola Piccante? Italy's Sharp Blue Cheese Wonder - Cheese Origin

Welcome to the world of Gorgonzola Piccante, Italy’s sharp blue cheese wonder. A culinary masterpiece hailing from the northern regions of Italy, this cheese is a testament to the art of aging and the magic of mold. With its robust, spicy flavor and crumbly texture, Gorgonzola Piccante is not just a cheese – it’s an experience.

Quick Facts About Gorgonzola Piccante

RegionLombardy and Piedmont
TypeBlue cheese
Milk SourceCow’s milk
TextureSemi-soft to hard
ColorPale yellow with blue veins
FlavorSharp, spicy, salty
Aging TimeAt least 80 days (Piccante)
PairingsFull-bodied wines, honey, figs, pears
Popular UsesPasta dishes, risotto, pizza, cheese boards
Other NamesGorgonzola Naturale, Mountain Gorgonzola
Protected DesignationPDO (Protected Designation of Origin) since 1996
Production MethodTraditional, artisanal
Shelf LifeUp to 4 weeks when properly stored
NutritionHigh in protein and calcium, contains probiotics
FamilyStracchino cheeses
Notable CharacteristicsDistinctive blue-green mold marbling

What is Gorgonzola Piccante?

What is Gorgonzola Piccante?

Gorgonzola Piccante, an Italian culinary treasure, is a blue cheese that hails from the picturesque regions of Lombardy and Piedmont. This artisanal cheese, also known as Gorgonzola Naturale or Mountain Gorgonzola, is crafted from pasteurized cow’s milk, reflecting the rich flavors of its native landscapes.

Unveiling a Gorgonzola Piccante reveals its distinctive natural rind and the striking blue veins that run through its pale yellow body. This marbling effect, a characteristic of the blue-green mold used in its creation, gives this cheese its unique visual appeal. Its texture is an intriguing blend of crumbly and creamy, setting it apart from other blue-veined cheeses.

The flavor of Gorgonzola Piccante is a spirited dance of sharp, spicy, and subtly salty notes, guaranteed to captivate your taste buds. This robust character is born out of an extended aging process of at least 80 days, resulting in a more pronounced and intricate flavor than its younger sibling, Gorgonzola Dolce.

Gorgonzola Piccante makes a bold statement, whether it’s the star of a cheese platter, lending depth to a risotto, or adding an unexpected twist to a pizza. When paired with full-bodied wines, sweet honey, succulent figs, or juicy pears, its potent flavor is beautifully balanced.

Awarded the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in 1996, Gorgonzola Piccante is a testament to Italy’s dedication to preserving its age-old cheesemaking techniques. With every bite of this cheese, you’re not just experiencing a delightful flavor but also embarking on a voyage into the heart of Italy’s gastronomic legacy.

What Does Gorgonzola Piccante Taste Like?

Gorgonzola Piccante flavor is characteristically sharp, spicy, and piquant, thanks to its extended aging process of at least 80 days. This results in a more pronounced and complex flavor compared to its milder counterpart, Gorgonzola Dolce.

While it carries a strong flavor, it’s not overwhelmingly so. The initial sharpness gives way to a rich, buttery undertone that lingers on the palate. Its salty notes are well-balanced, adding depth without overpowering the other flavors.

The blue-green mold marbling contributes an earthy quality to the cheese, enhancing its bold profile. The creamy yet crumbly texture also plays a role in the taste experience, adding a delightful contrast.

Pairing Gorgonzola Piccante with sweet accompaniments like honey, figs, or pears can balance its robust flavor, while full-bodied wines can complement and highlight its complexity. Whether enjoyed on its own or used in culinary creations, Gorgonzola Piccante promises a flavor journey that’s both intense and satisfying.

Gorgonzola Piccante Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Pale yellow color with distinctive blue-green veins, semi-soft to hard texture, natural rind.
  • Aroma: Rich and robust, with a hint of earthiness from the blue-green mold.
  • Flavor: Sharp and spicy initial taste that transitions into a rich, buttery undertone. Well-balanced saltiness adds depth.
  • Texture: Crumbly yet somewhat creamy, providing a delightful contrast.

How to Eat Gorgonzola Piccante?

  • Cheese Board: Let Gorgonzola Piccante be the bold star on your cheese board. Pair it with a variety of crackers, fresh fruits, and a drizzle of honey to balance its robust flavor.
  • Culinary Delight: Use it in risottos, pasta dishes, or gourmet pizzas for an added depth of flavor. It also makes a fantastic addition to a creamy sauce for steak or chicken.
  • Pair with Wine: Enjoy Gorgonzola Piccante with a glass of full-bodied red wine like Barolo or Amarone. The wine’s richness can complement the cheese’s spicy notes, creating a harmonious pairing.
  • Dessert Cheese: Serve it as a dessert cheese with ripe pears or apples, or crumble it over a fig tart. The sweet fruit contrasts beautifully with the cheese’s saltiness.
  • Bread Companion: Spread Gorgonzola Piccante on crusty bread for a simple yet satisfying snack. Add a few slices of prosciutto for a more substantial treat.
  • Salads and Soups: Crumble it over salads or soups for a punch of flavor. It pairs particularly well with crisp, bitter greens and hearty vegetable soups.
  • Grilled Cheese Upgrade: Swap out your regular cheddar for Gorgonzola Piccante in a grilled cheese sandwich for a gourmet twist.
  • Cheese Fondue: Melt Gorgonzola Piccante with other cheeses for a rich, flavorful fondue. Dip in chunks of bread, vegetables, or cooked meats for a cozy, communal meal.

10 Best Gorgonzola Piccante Substitutes

Gorgonzola DolceItalyA milder, creamier version of Gorgonzola with a sweet aftertaste.
StiltonEnglandA semi-soft English blue cheese, known for its strong flavor and crumbly texture.
MaytagUnited StatesAn American blue cheese that is handcrafted and known for its tangy, peppery taste.
RoquefortFranceA rich and tangy sheep milk blue cheese with a distinctively sharp, intense flavor.
Danish BlueDenmarkA blue-veined cheese with a creamy, semi-soft texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Goat CheeseVariesCreamy and versatile cheese with a tangy taste, made from goat’s milk.
CheddarEnglandA hard, aged cheese with a nutty, sharp flavor that can add depth to dishes.
Queso FrescoMexicoA fresh, mild cheese that crumbles easily and has a slightly sour flavor.
FetaGreeceA brined curd cheese that is crumbly in texture and tangy in taste.
Bleu d’AuvergneFranceA French blue cheese that is creamy and less salty than Gorgonzola, with a grassy, spicy flavor.

What Pairs Well With Gorgonzola Piccante?

What Pairs Well With Gorgonzola Piccante?

Food that goes well with Gorgonzola Piccante:

FruitsApples, pears, figs, grapes, and dried fruits like apricots. These fruits provide a sweet contrast to the salty and spicy flavor of Gorgonzola Piccante.
NutsAlmonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. The crunch and earthy flavors of these nuts complement the creamy texture and robust flavor of the cheese.
BreadsCrusty baguettes, whole grain bread, and flatbreads. These bread types serve as a great vessel for the cheese and balance its rich flavor profile.
MeatsProsciutto, salami, roast beef, and grilled chicken. The savory quality of these meats pairs well with the strong flavor of Gorgonzola Piccante.
VegetablesArugula, radicchio, endive, and roasted vegetables. The bitter greens and savory vegetables provide a nice contrast to the tangy and spicy notes of the cheese.
CondimentsHoney, balsamic reduction, and fruit preserves. These sweet condiments help to balance out the saltiness of the cheese.
Pasta & GrainsRisotto, gnocchi, penne, and farro. Gorgonzola Piccante can be melted into these dishes to add a depth of flavor.
DessertsDark chocolate, biscotti, and fruit tarts. The sweetness of these desserts pairs perfectly with the sharpness of Gorgonzola Piccante.

Also read: What Fruit Goes on a Charcuterie Board?

Beverage that goes well with Gorgonzola Piccante:

Red WinesBarolo, Amarone, and Cabernet Sauvignon. These full-bodied reds can stand up to the robust, spicy flavor of Gorgonzola Piccante.
White WinesSauternes, Riesling, and Moscato d’Asti. These sweet and fruity white wines provide a nice contrast to the cheese’s saltiness.
Fortified WinesPort and Sherry. The sweetness and complexity of these fortified wines make them a classic pairing for blue cheeses like Gorgonzola Piccante.
BeersBelgian Trappist Ales, English Barleywines, and Stout Beers. These beers have robust flavors that can match the intensity of the cheese.
SpiritsSingle Malt Scotch, Bourbon, and Brandy. These spirits have a depth of flavor and a warming quality that pairs well with the strong, spicy notes of Gorgonzola Piccante.
Non-AlcoholicSparkling Apple Cider, Grape Juice, and Herbal Teas. These non-alcoholic options offer sweet and refreshing contrasts to the cheese’s rich flavor.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long is Gorgonzola Piccante aged?

Gorgonzola Piccante is typically aged for a minimum of 80 days to let it demonstrate its unique characteristics. However, the aging period can vary. For instance, Long Aged Gorgonzola is aged for 130 days instead of the regular 80-90 days that Gorgonzola Piccante is usually aged. Some versions of Gorgonzola Piccante are aged twice as long and graded based on the amount of bluing in the paste. The cheese is known to get firmer as it ripens.

2. Is Gorgonzola Piccante a strong cheese?

Yes, Gorgonzola Piccante is indeed a strong cheese. It’s known for its pungent aroma and robust, spicy flavor – hence the name “Piccante,” which translates to “spicy” in Italian. This is in contrast to Gorgonzola Dolce, which has a milder, sweeter flavor.

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