...How good the Pecorino at the discount superstore is, with or without pears. An indecent, but sincere confession from someone in the food field who found a first-rate cheese in a superstore, not a food boutique.
I'll admit it, I've been wanting to write this article for almost a year, but for quallid political correctness I waited. How could I have confessed that the best cheese I've had in quite a while was an everyday pecorino toscano, of the "aged" category, which sold for 15 Euros/k in a discount superstore?
I'll even confess more: I buy it often, and it has never failed me. Quite the contrary, friends and acquaintances have invariably liked it, drawn in by the cherry-effect, with every slice you nibble you feel you must have just one more.
Nothing superfluous; the cheesemaker's site not only doesn't have a picture of this cheese, but doesn't even mention it, which means it's produced especially for supermarkets, in simply labeled half-kilo (about a pound) wedges.
Let's therefore ignore the outside, the dark skin and the simple plastic wrap of this Pecorino Toscano DOP made by the Caseificio Dell'Amiata SpA http://www.alival.it/amiata.htm in Castel Del Piano (Province of Grosseto), which is owned by the Alival Group in Pistoia: It's great, and there's no need to say more.
The rind is very thin. The aging is just about perfect, a balance between residual freshness and dryness that is not yet enough to make the cheese crumbly, with a nice pale yellow body with excellent texture that's firm to the knife, but deliciously tender when bitten. On the tongue it's full bodied and ample, without the slightest trace of gumminess, nor is it grainy, with aromas that are rich and intense but also show sobriety, and a long savory aftertaste. It's inviting but not ingratiating, nor obvious, and will find favor with those who want something to nibble upon, and also those who seek cheeses to think about.
A cheese, let me make clear, that I know nothing about, except for what I have written and what I found on the cheesemaker's site http://www.alival.it/amiata.htm. No further research, not phone calls. I just trusted my palate. And I tried to remember when I had tasted something similar.
I have, of course. But limited production cheeses, given sparingly and served like fine wines, in tiny slices garnished exquisitely, and almost impossible to find without great effort. Sometimes expensive, and sometimes less so.
Here instead one can chow down, the package and the price permit it.
And for once let's set snobbery aside and cut to the quick, at a blind tasting this cheese would make a splash, upstaging many award-winning pecorini. Gotta admit it, one can find surprising things in supermarkets too. But it's best not to bandy it about overmuch.
Edited to Add: Stefano says he bought this wonderful cheese at Penny Market.
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.