Tuesday Alpine Italian Day Presented by ACS CCP® Allin Tallmadge
Dreamy creamy tasty Robiolas, little Queens of the Langhe region in northern Italy. Oh boy do we love ya.
Robiola is an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family. It is from the Langhe region and made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s milk and sheep milk. One theory is that the cheese gets its name from the town of Robbio in the province of Pavia; another that the name comes from the word rubeole (ruddy) because of the color of the seasoned rind. The term “robiola”, which indicates this dairy product, would probably derive from the Latin “rubeolus”, an adjective used referring to the reddish color of the surface, the typical shade of this cheese, exalted as the seasoning goes by. The cheese has a long history that is sometimes traced back to the Celto-Ligurian farmers of the Alta Langa: the virtues of a cheese from Ceba (today Ceva) were extolled by the first-century Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, but any identification of that cheese with the Robiola of today must be speculative. However, in his Summa Lacticiniorum, the fifteenth-century dairy produce expert Pantaleone da Confienza did describe the manufacture, and praise the quality, of a cheese with this name.
Robiola di Roccaverano is the only DOP Robiola and the only Goat milk Italian DOP cheese, The term “di Roccaverano” that completes the name of this cheese, connects the epicenter of its production with the homonymous town in the province of Asti, called exactly Roccaverano. Here, in the area between Asti and Alessandria, in the Eastern part of the Langhe, there is a cheese delicate, raw, white, also kwown as “formaggetta”.
It is a cheese mad from the fresh milk’s rennet, matured and seasoned. Milk can be obtained from goats Roccaverano and Camosciata Alpina, sheeps Piemontese and Bruno Alpina, or some crosses, with the addiction of cow’s milk for a maximum of the 50%. Milk can be added with natural starter bacteria and rennet, and then it is acidified at a temperature between 18-24°C.
It is left to stand to allow the coagulation, which is completed in 8-36 hours. After this time the curds are put in perforated molds to be drained of whey. The molds are turned upside down frequently.
Salting must be made dry on the surface and matured in around 3 days depending on the locale.
After seasoning, Robiola must stay in the molds for at least 10 days, and 30 days for dry Robiola.
Before it can be put in the market, Robiola must receive a specific logo, with a stylized brown “R” with a tower and some blackbirds, as the famous monument in the city of origin of this cheese, close to a light green frieze that is the symbol of local valleys.
The logo is drawn near the code that identifies the manufacturing factory, with a stamping number. If Robiola has been produced with goat milk, the background is ochre, otherwise it is white for the mixed milk.
Varieties of Robiola are produced across Piedmont from the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria and into Lombardy. It is one of the specialties of the Aosta Valley. The taste and appearance of Robiola varies depending upon where it was produced. Robiola di Roccaverano DOP / DOC has no rind and a slightly straw-yellow coloring with a sweet, yielding taste. Robiola Lombardia has a thin, milky-white to pink rind and tends to be shaped like small rolls. The cream-colored cheese underneath its bloomy rind has a smooth, full, tangy and mildly sour flavor, likely due to the high (52%) fat content. Its rind can be cut away, but is mild with no ammonia and adds a subtle crunch to the cheese. La Tur has a cake-like rind over a tangy-lactic layer of cream and is representative of Piedmont’s Robiola style of cheese where the fresh curds are ladled into molds, and drain under their own weight before aging rather than by pressing with weights. Robiola from the Piedmont region is a fresh cheese, and is usually eaten on its own, or with a little honey.
Robiola is generally served as a table cheese, either alone or with oil, salt and pepper. It must be stored properly after being purchased, and will keep fresh for up to one month. Its tangy taste is attributable to being infused with the wild herbs on which the animals pasture. Robiola can also be used in cooking including famous Piemonte dishes such as “risotto robiola” and “aglio robiola spaghetti” and other dishes. Special care should be exercised in properly storing the cheese (do not wrap in plastic, as the cheese can “choke” and spoil). Best stored refrigerated unwrapped in its crust, or wrapped in paper. Best used within a week of purchase.
In June every year there is a festival, which joins all the manufacturers of Robiola D.O.P., the “Fiera Carrettesca ai sapori della Robiola”. During the show, the best “formaggetta” of the day receives a reward, keeping alive this tradition.
Congratulations to our 2017 ACS CCP Exam and Conference Winners: Kelley Jewell, Tyler Frankenberg, ACS CCP® Hazel-Rue Woodies and ACS CCP® Matt Bellingham. Thanks to the generous donations from cheese lovers everywhere, we are thrilled to send these four worthy recipients to Denver this July!!! You can read all the details here.