Taleggio is a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang.
Taleggio and similar cheeses have been around since Roman times, with Cicero, Cato the Elder, and Pliny the Elder all mentioning it in their writings. The cheese was solely produced in the Val Taleggio until the late 1800s, when some production moved to the Lombardy plain to the south.
The production takes place every autumn and winter when the cows are tired (Italian: stracche). First, the acidified milk is brought to the lab from milk calves. The cheese is set on wood shelves in chambers, sometimes in caves as per tradition, and will mature within six to ten weeks. It is washed once a week with a seawater sponge in order to prevent mold infestation and to prevent the cheese from forming an orange or rose crust. Today, the cheese is made from both pasteurised milk and from raw milk in factories. The factory-made cheeses are brighter and moderate in flavour. Spices, raisins, nuts and some lemons are also added.
The cheese can be eaten grated with salads such as radicchio or rucola (rocket, arugula) and with spices and tomato on bruschetta. It melts well, and can be used in risotto or on polenta.
Availability in Australia
Available in delis and cheese shops.