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DOP e non

Bergamo cheeses: ideas in the kitchen

Bergamo's Cheese Valley

The city of a thousand, the one that everyone knows inside and out, the one that preserves and safeguards various UNESCO sites, the one that in 2023 - will be the capital of culture with Brescia, in short, in one word, Bergamo.

Although the excellence ranges in different areas, there is a record that few know and many appreciate: the city produces 9 DOP-labelled cheeses.

Among the best known are Formai de Mut, Bitto, Provolone Valpadana, Salva Cremasco and Strachitunt, completing the list we find: Taleggio, Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Quartirolo Lombardo.

Fat or lean pasta, with or without crust, combined with mustard or a savory sausage, there is a solution for everything, you need to find the perfect combination to solve the enigma and best fill the table.

Who won the 2022 World Cheese Award?

A Swiss Gruyère cheese won the coveted prize which every year sees various producers competing who dedicate work and passion to their business. In 2022 the awards ceremony was held in Newport in Wales, a substitute destination for Kiev due to problems related to the war.

4434 participants from 42 countries took part in the curious participation, marking a dizzying increase - close to 400 participants compared to 2021.

250 judges from 38 nations complete the numbers that contributed to the success of the event. Although the first place is noteworthy, it is Italy's second place that manages to unleash the patriotic instinct thanks to the Italian Gorgonzola DOP.

A recipe for each DOP Bergamo cheese

To best describe Bergamo DOP cheeses, it is necessary to propose them accompanied by other - more or less - local products capable of enhancing - where necessary - the authentic taste of Bergamo excellence.

Bitto and kitchen

Bitto finds ample space on the cold cuts and cheese platter and, with its unique flavour, pairs perfectly with well-structured red wines.

Cut into flakes and combined with a well-selected fruit jam, it offers the best of itself. Another combination capable of surprising in terms of taste is the combination of fillings which, combined with the delicacy of fresh pasta, manages to find its own dimension and restore balance. Polenta also welcomes the addition of cheese with flying colors, becoming in all respects a typical dish.

If the choice falls on the seasoned version, the perfect combination is found with the risotto, a sublime creaming rich in flavor is obtained, even the choice to offer it in flakes with the salad has its own reason, and allows you to add a touch decided on a dish that is par excellence light.

Save Cremasco in the kitchen

Salva Cremasco DOP cheese has a particular shape and a dark rind, the contrast with the yellow paste gives rise to a rather crumbly and compact consistency. The colors are the result of careful brining which usually takes place dry, the maturing also provides a good contribution as it takes place with the help of aromatic herbs and/or pomace.

The combination with Cremonese mustard in all its versions is obvious, although the version with acacia honey adds a very respectable plus. In the area of ​​origin it is customary to taste Salva Cremasco with pipèto: cabbage puree, breadcrumbs and garlic.

Formai de Mut and cooking

Multifaceted and multifunctional, the formai de mut owes part of its fame to its multiple uses in the kitchen. Part of it, because the rest is due to a sublime taste, a strong flavor and a persistent fragrance.

The cheese, thanks to its long maturation, was used as a "grater" to add to a rich soup or a pasta dish. Speaking of wines for the slightly aged versions, the ideal combination is found with white, young and slightly structured wines which cleanse the palate of rather persistent olfactory and gustatory residues.

The mature version of the formai de mut is exactly the opposite and loudly welcomes medium-bodied and not very aromatic wines, therefore it is necessary to complete without exaggerating with the additions.

Provolone Valpadana and cuisine

The distinction of Provolone Valpadana is between sweet and spicy.

The sweet version, when it comes to wines, goes well with medium-bodied and rather young products, while when it comes to cured meats and sausages, the "sweet" ones come out on top: bacon, cooked ham and roast turkey.

The spicy version favors products such as mushrooms and a wine with a fuller body and intense colour, the result of careful creation that complements the intense taste and offers a unique experience also on an olfactory level.

Seasoned cured meats such as coppa and speck accompany the platter of cured meats and cheeses at their best. The appetizers and starters are the perfect dishes to offer Bergamo DOP cheese: bruschetta and mini sandwiches become the perfect dishes!

Strachitunt and kitchen

Val Taleggio offers a DOP marked product with an intense and full-bodied flavour, blue-veined and soft raw paste brings to mind more well-known versions of the product. The flavor of Strachitunt is complex to describe: strong and sweet enough to melt in the mouth without any type of exaggeration.

The perfect pairing is with vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, herbs or boiled potatoes. On the table, on the cutting board, it goes well with particular and well-selected compotes such as honey, figs and walnuts.

Its softness to the right degree also makes it perfect for creaming elaborate risottos or for offering an extra touch in a particular fondue. Structured and full-bodied wines conclude the overview of Strachitunt.

Bergamo taleggio and cuisine

Similar to a tile, it recalls a typical workmanship from the construction world with a strong Bergamo character. Taleggio, however, unlike a "quadrel", is excellent when paired with dried fruit such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts.

In the kitchen it finds its ideal habitat when paired with "sweet" vegetables such as cabbage, pumpkin and courgettes. Excellent for a savory pie, it lends itself perfectly to an omelette with asparagus, in short, to best combine taleggio cheese, it must be accompanied by simple, traditional ingredients such as vegetables and eggs.

Grana Padano DOP and cooking

Characterized by a non-uniform colour, an undercrust and holes of different sizes, Grana Padano DOP from Bergamo offers a slightly acidic and sweet flavor thanks to the mixture with melted or seasoned butter, in addition to the other ingredients required by the specifications.

Various recipes see it as the protagonist, although what best enhances it is the pancotto which in the Bergamo area is called panada.

The recipe is something simple, a product of peasant life and with poor ingredients, the dish is a first course that must be served hot based on stale bread and grated Grana Padano cheese.

A full-bodied and consistent red wine completes the richness of the simple dish which is revisited thanks to the drinkable accompaniment.

Quartirolo Lombardo and cuisine

Quartirola grass is the main ingredient and is presented as a first cousin of taleggio, different only in a different skimming and a minimum maturation of 30 days. Perfect for controlled diets, Quartirolo finds its best size associated with boiled vegetables and salads.

Tasty just enough, it manages to enrich without distorting or exaggerating, a protagonist ingredient that chooses to share notoriety with the other products in the recipe. Rosé, gray or white depending on the seasoning, it gives a good result even when it is offered on a platter of cured meats and cheeses.

Gorgonzola and cooking

Gorgonzola DOP is available in two versions: sweet and spicy and to have the marking it can - as per the regulations - be produced in two Italian regions, Lombardy and Piedmont.

It reaches a minimum maturation of 50 days and a maximum of 80 so as to give a creamy structure for the sweet version and a compact one for the spicy version.

Tradition associates gorgonzola with gnocchi: a sublime creaminess fills the dish with color and joy and brings together adults and children alike.

Generally speaking, they are winter first courses that perfectly accommodate the creaminess that gorgonzola can provide, the soft and creamy pasta becomes the perfect compromise to offer the best of a product that owes part of its goodness to the calibrated marbling.

Genuine meat and DOP Bergamo cheeses

Carne Genuina is an agricultural company that offers selected products in its shop capable of translating the traditional term into food products. Good, perhaps very good, Bergamo cheeses have taken a place of honor and when offered together with beef they enjoy the success they deserve.

It is difficult to choose the best and, exactly for this reason, the Cheese Box was created which contains some excellent products perfect for adding to festive recipes and enhancing the taste of the dish.

Starter, first course or second course, it doesn't matter, cheeses manage to optimize various recipes that deviate from the simple course dedicated to cheeses.

With jams and mustards, with gnocchi or vegetables, the ingredient offers its best and becomes a winning, sometimes compelling element. You need to get to the stove and choose your own cheese recipe!