Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
The true giant of the cheese world in so many senses: the drum-shaped whole cheese is a huge thing; its longevity is unrivalled, and many – non-Italians even, would choose Parmesan as their 'If you could only have one cheese, which would it be?' choice.
The flavour is a fantastic mixture of just enough salt and sharpness with milky buttery-ness and a grainy texture that is never dry unless the cheese has been stored badly (wrapping tightly in a double layer of foil after each use is the answer).
Parmigiano Reggiano making is restricted to the dairy farmers of Emilia Romana, and begins with a mix of morning and evening unpasteurised milk. This is heated in huge cauldron-like boilers and cut and drained with incredible dexterity, then the young cheese is brine bathed and allowed to mature for a minimum of eighteen months.
The cheeses are tested several times before they are passed for sale with Parmigiano Reggiano imprinted all around the rind.
Parmesan is not suitable for vegetarians, however there is a vegetarian 'Parmesan-style' cheese available from www.bookhamcheese.co.uk which is a good substitute.
Yes, smoked fish is expensive, but you'll find that a little goes a long way in this luxurious supper dish for two, so go on - why not treat yourself?
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If you like lots of gutsy flavour in food, you'll like this recipe, which should be made with the very best olive oil and served with lots of fresh Parmesan.
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