Asiago (ah-zee-AH-goh) is a cow's milk cheese first made in the northern Veneto region of Italy. Its crafted in two flavor and texture profiles. One is Pressato, the fresh Asiago. The other is the big flavored aged Asiago, Asiago d'Allevo. The fresher version will be a light straw color; with a semi-soft texture plus it will taste mild and a bit sweet. As this cheese ages, it becomes a darker color and delivers a sharper and nuttier sensation. The texture also becomes harder so you can grate it on or in your favorite dish. Asiago is a pleasing substitute for Parmesan at any meal.
Asiago can be enjoyed in those famous panini sandwiches and paired with Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG. What a combination with this wine and a robust panino!
Now that the weather is cold, I enjoy grating Asiago on a savory Pasta e Fagioli Soup. An authentic recipe for this Italian specialty can be found right on this site. Chef Donatella Zampoli also recommends pairing her soup with Nipozzano. Of course, the old standby of a steaming bowl of pasta with your choice of sauce can be enhanced with a liberal topping of Asiago and several sips of the Tuscan wine.
Another easy and delicious method of serving Asiago is to split a California Dried Calimyrna (golden) or Mission (black) Fig in half and place a slice of Asiago on top. Now properly execute The Cheese Highway with this combination and a glass of Nipozzano - you will experience why the Italians love their figs. Enjoy!