5 novembre 2012

Salone del Gusto recipe - Veneto region: Monte veronese cheese

la ricetta in italiano qui

Just back from a long and amazing weekend at Salone del Gusto in Turin along with 150 crazy foodbloggers who gave birth to a unique gastronomic festival for the first time in such an important and international event (and all thanks to Garofalo and its genuine foolish marketing director, aka Emidio Mansi, assisted by an incredible team of collaborators:-).
My partner and I had to represent our region, Veneto, through an Italian Slow Food Presidium featuring at the show. The choice has been very easy as we decided for Monte Veronese, a  typical cheese of Lessinia, the mountainous region (Prealps) just off North of Verona, about halfway between my house and Silvia's, and often present on our tables.
Only a fixed rule request: organize a cold appetizere, that is to say without any minimal sort of cooking because mobile stations are not equipped for that.
Just a little moment of discouragement for Silvia and I, than we dedicated to the idea of a fresh salad that could enhance the cheese, and in this case better to use the oldest, more full-bodied and flavorful. We exchanged several mails with different ingredients and seasonal garnishes, but soon our shopping list was ready and quickly shipped to our Supplier Lady Laura.
This salad goes also well to what we have at home: the pine nuts can be replaced with almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and why not also with chestnuts, the pomegranate gives a touch of color and is always a good-luck symbol  (and it was for us luck because the after tasting comments were very positive :-), the grapes might give way to seasonal apples or pears stay. The choice of green is to your personal taste, every fresh cut salad goes well, each radicchio can find a good accommodation in the bowl. And you could add various seeds: sesame, poppy, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, so valuable to our health.

 insalata degustazione veneto

We went for a classic drizzle, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but emulsioned with a teaspoon of mango and chili jam, just for a little different and cooler twist.
But I still want to try it with a curried sauce, my first idea but not so courageous to propose :-). Grissini or crackers to go by.

The Lessinia mountains, North of Verona, in the 13th century were a great uninhabited reserve, where the inhabitants of neighbouring countries led to graze sheep and goats. On February 5th, 1287 Bishop Bartolomeo della Scala of Verona granted to a group of Cimbri, coming from the Asiago plateau, a chance to settle in the territory and use its resources. The Cimbri were dedicated primarily to cattle ranching and knew very well the techniques to produce cheese, so far to enjoy the usufruct of these lands until 1689. The Veronese mountains are well-suited for grazing: the Lessini mountains exposes at noon, no big slopes and a long grass growing season to allow a longer Alpine period than usual. In order with that, that they could develop a cheese-making tradition for cow manufactured cheese, often obtained after butter production. They used to collect here, as elsewhere in the Alps, different fresh milkings. The term Monte (mountain) probably refers to the production technique, where milk was curdled from multiple milkings: local production has obtained the Dop in 1996 with the name Monte Veronese. The name was given to two different type of cheese: whole milk and alpine, semi-cooked. The whole milk cheese is consumed fresh. Alpine cheese is produced with semi-skimmed milk. The maturing process lasts for a minimum of 90 days, whether the cheese is for table use, and for a minimum of 6 months (which may arrive even at 2 years for stravecchio, the oldest) if the cheese is gratong use. The average weight of the form varies from 6 to 9 kilos, 13 to 20 pounds. The Presidium Monte Veronese is at its best with a long seasoning, a suitable cheese to be consumed at the end of the meal.
The production of  Presidium  Veronese of the goes along with the Alpine ascent of herds and, therefore, must take place in the period from approximately the end of May until September. Monte Veronese pasture cheese must have a minimum of 90-days agiing. Until a few years ago the production of Monte Veronese created with pasture milk was not particularly valued. Still some decades ago there were more than 100 huts in Lessinia. Today they developped into holiday homes or pastures for beef cattle. The milk produced by cows that graze in pastures  was taken to dairies and here was often mixed with milk from stables. Only one hut still has an alpine cheese-making workshop and produces cheese exclusively with milk from Lessinia pastures. But a miserable alpine production will led to lose a high quality cheese and, little by little, the Veronese mountain pastures will be abandoned, with a great damage to the mountain ecosystem. Thanks to the  support of  Monte Veronese Protection Consortium, a Presidium gathered together the dairies and alpine huts available to produce Monte Veronese with pasture milk: a trademark (an M for malga, hut) is marked on the cheese next to Dop mark, but the goal of the Presidium is to increase the laboratories in the huts (from SlowFood).

(pictures by P. Calciolari)

Fresh Salad with Grapes, Pinenuts, Pomegranate
and  Monte Veronese cheese


fresh green salad
grapes (white, black or pink) 
pine nuts
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar 
a little Mambo jam (mango & chili)

 insalata degustazione veneto

- Combine salads and fruit in a bowl or on a platter (grape berries cut in half and unseeded).
-  Prepare the topping by blending oil, vinegar and jam in a small bowl with a fork or in a jar and shake well to have a creamy emulsion.
-  Dress the salad and garnish with grated/sliced Monte Veronese. Serve immediately.

This recipe is my personal entry to WHB # 358
(turning 7 this week!)
hosted  by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything for English edition
and Brigida of Briggishome for Italian edition.
Thanks again to Haalo who manages greatfully all events,
to Bri for Italian edition.
Thanks again to Kalyn for her successfull idea!
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