Italian Cheeses, as well as being excellent food to be enjoyed alone, are also an essential ingredient of Italian food and are often used as a seasoning or as a filling. The origin of cheese has to be found in primitive society, in particular breeding. Over the centuries, the art of cheese developed preserving its basic elements: milk, salt, rennet and heat, as well as ferments and salt.
Cheese is an excellent and comprehensive food, both from the nutritional point of view that in taste and flavor. It contains proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals with biological value and suitable for all ages.
It should be served on a large wooden cutting board or a plate of ceramic or glass, keeping it at room temperature before serving and cut it with a proper knife depending on the type of cheese. Its crust should never be removed and the tray can be enriched with food decorations such as radishes or celery and olives and served with vegetables or herbs as a side dish during the tasting or even jams or honey in case of seasoned or strongly flavored cheese.
Bread is another important accompaniment: the general rule is that a delicate cheese is accompanied by a white bread. In addition to whole grain bread is also good to serve normal rye wholemeal bread or big size bread sticks.
It's also proper to prepare toasted slices of bread in the oven and serve them hot. Another suitable combination for Italian Cheeses and bread is represented by honey and jams, already present in the cooking of the ancient Greeks.
Cheese, bread and wine were for centuries the main source of livelihood, especially among the poor people. These three different products have in common the fermentation processes of yeasts and bacteria.
Here are the most recommended combinations with cheeses: with seasoned "Asiago cheese" a slice of "Apulian bread" should be enjoyed with, possibly toasted, with honey or jam, radish, green tomato and celery. With the soft "Caciocavallo cheese", hard wheat bread is great with seasoned eucalyptus honey, citrus jam and red or white onions.
"Sheep cheeses" are firm but delicate, and enjoyed at best with raisin bread, honey and chestnut, red fruit jam and citrus. Seasoned cheeses, such as "Parmigiano Reggiano" and "Grana Padano", prefer sourdough bread baked in a wood oven, chestnut honey and mustard of pears and figs.
The fresh and seasoned "Pecorino Sardo" (very salted and dense cheese) both recall "Carasau bread" (typical bread from Sardinia) that the bread with white and compact crumb, flavored with honey, jam and mustard of figs, peppers and green tomatoes.
Among classic and unfailing Italian Cheeses, there's "Ricotta" (both vaccine and sheep), fresh and similar to butter in its flavor but low fat, that prefers soft bread and brioche crumb with honey and jams of different type of sweet fruit. In truth, ricotta is not really to be considered cheese because it comes from whey, what remains after the curd. Finally, the "Taleggio cheese", also used in the preparation of delicious desserts, is great on toasted bread and with a thin slice of whole wheat bread, with acacia honey, a fig mustard or a chutney of pears.