World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a cheese in season.
This week Sottocenere al Tartufo.
Country: Italy 🇮🇹
Made from: Cow’s milk
Texture: Firm and smooth
Taste: Salty, savory, milky, forest and truffles
Aging: Minimum 60 days
Sottocenere is a truffle infused Italian cheese from the northern region of Veneto. Its name meaning "under ash", is derived from the layer of ash that covers the cheese as it ages.
It is a very pale yellow to off-white semi-soft cheese that is aged in a coat of nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, liquorice, cloves, and fennel and studded throughout with slices of rich, black truffle. Made with raw cow's milk, the cheese is aged in an ash rind to retain the aromatics over a long period of time as well as to evoke the delicate flavours of the cinnamon and nutmeg, amongst others.
The al tartufo refers to the addition of slivers of black truffle into the cheese, during the cheese making.
The rind is edible, although sometimes a little gritty and is less flavorful than the cheese. A strong truffle aroma is followed by a slightly milder truffle flavor.
Not only are tiny pieces of truffle found throughout this semi-soft cheese, but the rind is also rubbed with truffle oil. Notes of scalded cream and vanilla manage to sneak past the predominantly earthy flavor profile.
How to enjoy it
This cheese can be appreciated on its own or paired with a glass of sparkling wine or Italian Barbera. Delicate and aromatic, Sottocenere is perfectly suited to the sparkle of Lambrusco.
Try melting Sottocenere over polenta, risotto, or scrambled eggs.
It is also a great cheese to pair with hot cider. The rind of Sottocenere, not to mention the truffle, will pick up that hint of cinnamon stick, and the soft paste will turn to silk in your mouth.
Source: cheese.com, Wikipedia, The Spruce Eats, Jennifer Meier, Valsana