D.O.C Asiago Cheese

by Leslie Stauffer on June 27, 2011

An overview of D.O.C. Asiago cheese

Among North Italian Cheeses, none are more instantly recognizable than asiago. But while the lump of melted cheese that tops your morning bagel may share the same name as this Italian staple, a taste of official D.O.C asiago will show your taste buds what you’ve been missing. Most asiago sold in the United States is not a Northern Italian cheese import, and as such is missing the most important aspect of this famous cheese: the Asiago region’s milk.

Traditional Asiago Cheese

Traditional asiago hails from the province of Vicenza, in the Vento region of Italy. Its name comes from the town of Asiago in the Altopiano di Asiago mountain range. For at least a millennia the farmers of this Northern Italian region have made asiago cheese. The process starts when spring reaches the mountain plateau surrounding Asiago. Farmers drive their cattle from lowland pastures to the fresh spring grass of the mountains. From this superior grass the cows produce thick, flavorful milk, and this high quality milk is the backbone of asiago cheese.

The D.O.C label was created by the Italian government to protect foods such as Asiago’s famous cheese from imitations. As a D.O.C product, only cheese made within a defined area around Asiago can be considered a true asiago. The D.O.C. label also holds the cheese to a high standard, regulating the quality of the cheese. This label was updated by the EU, and continues to regulate the creation and sale of asiago and other food and wine across the European Union.

While there are other D.O.C Northern Italian cheeses, asiago is the most common, both in Northern Italy and the world over. One taste of this authentic cheese, and it will be of little wonder why it’s taken the world by storm.

Italian Asiago Texture and Flavor

The texture of asiago can change greatly depending on how long it has been aged. Fresco asiago, that is asiago aged for less than a month, is soft and flavorful. It is often enjoyed as a snack or as part of a sandwich. Aged asiago is harder with a grainer texture, and is most commonly grated into soups, salads or pasta. With age the sharpness of the cheese becomes more pronounced. Asiago has a nutty flavor similar to parmesan, and can be used instead of parmesan in many recipes. Both fresh and aged asiago are known by small holes perforating the cheese.

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