Are you ready to step outside your Italian cheese comfort zone? Beyond Provolone, Parmigiano and Asiago. Away from Taleggio, Mozzarella and Mascarpone. There are well over 300 (some sources cite as many as 600) varieties of Italian cheese and most of us have barely touched the tip of the Italian cheese iceberg. From the alpine valleys of Italy’s SudTirol to the islands of Sardegna and Sicily, the regional cheeses of Italy speak volumes about the culinary and cultural heritage of their place of origin with a sense of tradition and the idea that nothing better can be found away from one’s home town.
There is a pride and fierce loyalty about the cultural distinctions of regional Italian food. The cheese that is found on your antipasto platter, grated on top of your pasta or used as a filling or ingredient in a favorite regional dish is thought of as a reflection of the land and the artisan’s hand often made by generational producers who are committed to preserving and protecting the culinary and cultural heritage of regional Italy food and bringing the best to the family table.
So let me introduce you to a cheese from the Valle del Piave, a deep valley in Italy’s northern Dolomites in the province of Belluno. An atmospheric Italian Shangri-la with myths and legends of gnomes and “wild men” who know the secrets of making cheese. Just such a man (uomo selvatico) might have taught the local shepherds how to make magrello one of regions many distinct cheeses. The renowned Caprino di Cavalese, stinky “Puzzone di Moena” and Silver Medal winners from the Mountain Cheese Olympics, can be found on the Dolomite cheese route. But magrello, made from the organic milk of the goats in the Piave Valley, may be special. Considered to be little “creatures” by their makers, bred until they have the right maturing, magrello is a mythically inspired cheese from a mythical valley in northern Italy.