It’s no surprise that many of Italy’s best cheeses are so beloved, they’ve been recognized as DOP products for their high quality, local production, and traditional recipes. In fact, historic cheese-producing towns take great pride in their characteristic cheese; you’ll often find signs boasting local products (like “Home of Fontina”!) as you pass through. After all, some Italian towns have been using the same tradition for over 1,000 years.
When tasting Italy’s cheeses, therefore, always look for the “DOP” seal—it’s the best guarantee that what you’re tasting is what the product is supposed to be.
Here’s a guide to just some of Italy’s most loved soft cheeses!
Mozzarella is a fresh, soft, stretched curd cheese, made with whole cow's milk. Due to the fact that it has a fragrant aroma of fresh milk and a delicate creamy flavor, Mozzarella is traditionally paired with light white wines. This Italian classic originates from the region of Campania, but nowadays it is produced all across the country. The ancient tradition of making Mozzarella cheese dates back to the 4th century BCE, however, the first official reference to its name was found in a 1570 cookery book by Bartolomeo Scappi, a famous Renaissance chef. It is an excellent table cheese used for preparing a number of different dishes and the essential ingredient of the Caprese salad and the famous Pizza Napoletana.
Ricotta is a fresh, soft cheese made from sheep's, cow's, goat's or Italian water buffalo's milk. Technically, it is not a cheese but a creamy curd made by reheating the whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking – hence the name ricotta, which literary means re-cooked. Ricotta curds are white and creamy, very fresh, and slightly sweet in taste. The shape and weight might vary, depending on the milk used in the process, but it usually has a conical shape achieved by the usage of fuscella - a traditional container in which the cheese is placed after skimming in order to drain. It can be consumed alone or accompanied by other cheeses or cold cuts, but its subtle aroma also makes it an excellent ingredient in many recipes.
You can buy Authentic Italian Ricotta ON THIS LINK
Mascarpone is a cheese from the Italian region of Lombardy, characterized by its very high fat content, ranging from 60% to 75%. Its texture can be smooth, creamy, or buttery, depending on the production process, while the flavors are lemony, sweet, full, and buttery. It is an essential ingredient in the preparation of desserts such as cheesecake, zabaglione, and tiramisu. Mascarpone is often mixed with coffee or cocoa, although it can also be used in savory dishes, accompanied by mustard, fresh herbs, or anchovies. It is believed that mascarpone originated during the late 16th and the early 17th century, its name thought to be a deviation of the Spanish phrase mas que buene, meaning better than good. Others claim that its name stems from the word mascarpia, meaning Ricotta in the local Italian dialect. Regardless of the origins of its name, mascarpone remains one of the most popular Italian cheeses that is praised for its versatility and flavor. For a unique experience, serve it with apple slices with sugar and lemon.
You can buy Mascarpone ON THIS LINK
Burrata, literary meaning buttered, is an artisan cheese from the Puglia region of Southern Italy, especially the provinces of Bari and Barletta-Andria-Trani. The cheese is made by hand with cow's milk, rennet, and cream. It is believed that the cheese was created by Lorenzo Bianchino Chieppa, a cheesemaker who had an idea to form a shell of stretched mozzarella strings and fill it with luscious, rich cream and smaller, leftover pieces of mozzarella. The result was a true delicacy with the creamiest interior and a rich flavor of fresh milk, which very quickly became extremely popular. Burrata should be eaten as fresh as possible - ideally within 24 hours of being made. It can be served alone, seasoned only with some salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, but it is also delicious when accompanied by fresh tomatoes and prosciutto crudo, or when used as a topping for pizzas or bruschettas.
Caprino is a goat’s milk cheese made throughout Italy - the name derives from the Italian word capra, meaning goat. There are two main varieties of caprino: fresco (fresh) and stagionato (aged). A fresh version is aged for two to four days, it has a nice, soft, creamy texture and round or cylindrical shape. Aged version is left to mature up to 6 months and during that period the cheese develops much saltier, tangier flavor and turns the color from white to yellow, sometimes even reddish. Caprino can be enjoyed on its own, served with fruit, or as an ingredient in first courses or salads. The fresh version pairs nicely with light white wine, while the aged one goes better with structured, fruity white wines.
Courtesy: walksofitaly, Tasteatlas