What do Russian cosmonauts and Italian athletes have in common? They have all gone wild for Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmigiano-Reggiano (parm-a-john-no reg-e-on-oh) is considered by many to be the reining King of Cheese?the true royalty of the entire world of cheese. And, if you?ve ever had the opportunity to savor the real deal you will understand why.
Italian athletes like Stefano Baldidi who won an Olympic gold medal grew up eating Parmigiano-Reggiano every day. Russian cosmonauts brought Parmigiano-Reggiano into orbit. This cheese?s high calcium content and easy digestibility were a big plus and so was its extraordinary taste.
The quality control for Parmigiano-Reggiano is mind bending. Within the first day of its creation, the wheel is given a series of ?tattoos? or birthmarks that identify the producer. The rind is then embossed with the words Parmigiano-Reggiano in a pin dot formation. These marks of authenticity become the guarantee of the cheese?s pedigree. Be sure to look for these when you purchase wedges of this majestic cheese.
I am sure you have had Parmigiano-Reggiano grated on pasta or in other Italian dishes, but have you tried it on a cheese board? The rich, nutty, fruity taste and unmistakable granular texture will make you a hero at your next party. Parmigiano-Reggiano is expensive but a lot goes a long way. It is so wine friendly you can be safe serving it with a plethora of Italian wines. My new favorite combo is Nipizzano with a nice chunk of room temperature melt-in-your-mouth Parmigiano-Reggiano. I like to begin with just a nice glass of this Chianti R?fina Riserva and the cheese. No bread. No honey. No olive oil. I want you to experience these flavors like the Purist I am not. Remember to execute The Cheese Highway? properly and you are in for a total treat.
Taste how the dark fruit and spiciness of the Nipizzano works with the complexity of the cheese. Both of these gastronomic delights have a finish that seems to roll on for days...they complement each other and give you more than you could ever dream. Parmigiano-Reggiano is costly but beyond well worth it. Purchase a small piece, as it is so flavorful you really don?t need a big hunk.
After you?ve fainted and recovered from this pairing, you can add condiments with the Parmigiano-Reggiano like a rich extra virgin olive oil, (Italian of course) an aged Balsamic vinegar or as a dessert course with chestnut honey. Serve with a hearty artisan loaf of bread and your party is ready to roll.