Friday, 12 October 2007

An Evening of Italian Cheeses

I was invited by the lovely Sarah Maternini (a passionate foodie by day, working for San Lorenzo to spread the word about Italian food, and a fellow daring baker and blogger by night) to a tasting evening hosted by San Lorenzo and focusing on Italian cheeses and wines. Now, anyone who knows me knows that cheese holds a drug-like sway on my psyche so an evening devoted to cheeses was bound to excite. What they also might not know is that Italian food is very precious to me, since it was during my semester abroad in Italy that I really learned how to eat for the first time (and that it wasn't by using a microwave that you'd make a great dinner). Good Italian food, and authentic Italian ingredients, are my equivalent of mother's milk, and there is no quicker route to making me happy.

As part of the tasting evening, we got to try 5 cheeses (paired with different honey) and 5 wines, along with a meal using the cheese and honey as part of their ingredients. Stand-out cheeses included a strong bagoss, and a very interesting testun al barolo, a cheese matured in the casks that formerly housed barolo wine, giving the cheese a rind coated in crunchy grape bits. I was also very happy to taste a chestnut honey, which produced a wave of autumnal Tuscany nostalgia in me and which tasted of rich, sweet chestnut essence.

In the meal, I most enjoyed the beef fillet with balsamic reduction, and rocket and parmigiano on the side - the beef was very tender and perfectly cooked, and the balsamic sauce was a good balance between sharp and sweet. The dessert was a pound cake made with chestnut honey, and I ate several slices on to which I drizzled even more honey on top (since more of a good thing is a wonderful, wonderful thing).

I've looked around San Lorenzo's website since going to their tasting evening, and it is full of food bits that would tempt any fan of Italian produce. The aged parmigiano can be difficult to find outside of special cheese shops and markets (such as La Fromagerie or Borough Market) and San Lorenzo is selling it in a generous half-kilo size (a half-filo of cheese - swoon). There are also some Italian wines that can be hard to find in main-stream shops (such as a Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and a Nebbiolo which I got to taste on the evening), and of course, plenty of hams, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. And that chestnut honey does call to me...

1 comment:

Niamheen said...

Oh! I really wanted to go to this, and, had hoped to, but had a previous commitment so unfortunately I had to give it a skip. I will be sure to make the next San Lorenzo evening.

Nice post! I shall be looking up these cheeses.