Incredibly rich and creamy, Fontina cheese boasts sweet and aromatic qualities. Characterized by distinct notes of toasted butter and roasted nuts, this cheese has a sumptuous and complex taste that lingers on the palate.
We’ve all heard of Fontina cheese before, many of us have probably even tried it, but what is fontina cheese? A controlled denomination cheese (DOP), Fontina is made exclusively in the Aosta valley of the French Alps. A dry summer climate and rich grasses infuse red-pied Valdostana cow's milk with a botanic herby quality that is both incredibly aromatic yet light and fresh. Surrounding the pasture-land that provides those cows with sustenance, caves in the wall of the mountains serve as a natural and convenient aging room for the cheeses. With their cool ambient temperature and naturally filtered moisture, the caves provide the perfect environment, creating a semi-hard and sliceable cheese with a dense interior, punctuated by delicate holes throughout its body. Cheeses like wine develop terroir depending on their surroundings, and the mountainside caves of the Aosta valley imbue fontina cheeses with a distinct aroma and unique nuance.
Deriving many of its special qualities from its surroundings, the process of making fontina cheese is no less impressive. Directly from pasture to creamery, the unpasteurized cow’s milk is heated in giant copper pots to which enzymes and calf rennet are added. These additions help coagulate the milk and form the curd. Once drained and separated, these curds are then pressed into molds to brine for the next two months before they are finally ready to be placed in the mountainside caverns. Another three months go by in the humid grotto where every day the wheels are turned and salt is liberally applied to their exteriors. The finished wheels emerge boasting a tan mottled rind, and that smooth flavorful taste we love so much.
A superb melting cheese, Fontina with its uniform texture and tangy flavor, makes an excellent topping for gratins and casseroles. Ideal for fondues, polentas, and risottos, try it wherever you need a creamy addition or a hit of savory flavor!