Friday, November 16, 2007

Say Cheese! Robiola

I must say, I'm starting to rethink this whole cheese idea. I LOVE cheese, or at least I have always thought so, but here I am, the second week into the weekly cheese, and I am not too happy with my choices. The first cheese, as you might remember, made me sneeze. So this week, I was determined to make the second cheese a cheese of note, one that we'd be talking about for years to come, saying "wow, after the sneezing cheese, I sure got my act together, didn't I?"

Not so, my friends. Not so. Okay, so before I get started, I must say that the Robiola that Antonello and I tried this week wasn't bad. It was actually kind of good--really. Well actually, the first bite wasn't good at all, and I was about to say to my husband, "Can we just scrap this one and get another cheese of the week?" But the second bite was good enough, and Antonello made an agreeable face like the cheese was tasty to him, so we decided to go with it. Robiola is a cheese that can be made in either Lombardy or Piedmont (like Gorgonzola), and there are many different kinds of Robiola cheese--the differences can be quite dramatic. In general, it is a soft cheese that can be either fresh or aged, and it is kind of like a brie, as you can eat the strange-looking rind, too (my first bite, I didn't eat the rind, so when I realized it was edible, I liked it much better).

This version of Robiola we bought while we were in Ancona with Corrie at this fancy-schmancy food shop that sold everything at exorbitant prices. But it was such a cute shop! So, checking out their aisle-long cheese counter, I spotted the little round of Robiola and thought it would be perfect. I asked the guy at the cheese counter, "Is that a good cheese?" He looked at me like I was crazy to ask (ALL of our cheeses are good, young lady!), and so I asked him to wrap it up for me. I'd take it.

So that takes me back to trying the soft Robiola the other day. I must admit, it's a good cheese. It's soft and the rind is satisfyingly contrasting to the custardy softness of the center, but, and this is the thing: it smells really bad. I know, smelly cheeses are good! But this one, well, it just smells too bad. I almost couldn't take it. Even Antonello thought it was a bit extreme, and he's more open to smelly cheese than I am.

So I guess the verdict is: if you like soft cheeses with an edible rind, this is a good one, and you can find all sorts of different kinds. It's sort of a mix between an aged cheese and a fresh cheese, since the rind really effects the flavour. But remember: get a clothes pin for your nose!

Sorry that my cheeses of the week haven't worked out quite the way I hoped (although I am still crazy about that Castelmagno that I tried weeks ago). Next week, I can't wait to find a cheese just that I can just fall in love with. I'm not giving up! In the meantime, I am learning a little more about cheeses: hopefully one day I can give a more educated opinion, rather than just, "I LOVE it!" Bear with me!

Articles about Robiola:

• The International Herald Tribune: Robiola, a Tasty Italian Secret
• Wikipedia: all about Robiola
• San Francisco Chronicle: It's All in the Blend for this Robiola

- Jackie


At 9:15 PM, Blogger The Passionate Palate said...

I love these cheese posts; they're so informative! Yummy.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

I actually used robiola in a few recipes (in July if you're interested) but I used the version without a rind - it's quite similar to cream cheese - I didn't a really strong smell from it. I'll have to try this version, too!

At 12:31 AM, Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

sara: yeah i've seen that version of robiola around too, but this was completely different stuff! i'll be sure to check out the july post where you used robiola!

passionate: thanks! i feel like i don't even know what i'm talking about half the time, though :)!

At 2:37 PM, Blogger KC said...

I've only seen the robiola like the one Sara mentions around here. But I'm very interested in this type with the rind. Is it like taleggio at all? I began to wonder that when you brought up how bad it stinks.

And I like the cheese posts!

At 6:21 AM, Blogger Proud Italian Cook said...

I love being educated on cheese, thanks! I don't think I could bring myself to eating the rind though, it's not appealing to me even on brie, but the inside looks yummy!

At 1:57 PM, Blogger rowena said...

Now THIS is the sort of post where I wish that had a smell option for blogging. Seriously, if it was that extreme, me wants a whiff of that baby!

Which reminds me...of the cheese puzzone. Will you take requests for featured cheese-of-the-week? ;-)

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

thanks for all of your comments!

kc: the rind is really thick, so it wasn't like taleggio in that way, but the creamy cheese part is kind of similiar. I think this robiola is a lot stronger, though. have you seen this site for taleggio cheese? kind of cute that they have their own site: (even if the english is a bit iffy)

rowena: i'll gladly take requests! we just bought some puzzone today based on your advice--it is very good (but A was not surprised at all that it was called PUZZONE :) )! it will make for a future cheese-of-the-week for sure!

proud italian cook: wow, a cheese educator? me? :) i agree about brie though--i've started to like it a lot more lately, but there is something weird about it that is hard to get past sometimes :).


At 9:07 AM, Blogger s.j.simon said...

) did you know how cheese was invented? It wasnt necessity, it was an accident, read this


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