The Cheese Lady’s Favorite Cheese

Over thirteen years ago, I tasted a cheese called Piave Vecchio and it opened my eyes to the wonders of hard-aged cheese, which could be both bold and incredibly nuanced.

After opening my own cheese shop, I began to taste hundreds of different cheeses, assuming that as my palate developed, Piave would lose its luster. Amazingly, all these years (and thousands of cheeses) later, Piave Vecchio is still my favorite cheese. Before we talk about why, let’s get a little background.

Piave Vecchio (meaning “Old Bridge” in Italian) is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto region of Italy. Aged for at least 12 months, it is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, but its texture is more tender and smooth, making it easier to eat straight.

So, how can one cheese remain a favorite for so many years? Simply put, because Piave Vecchio is really a bunch of cheeses rolled into one.

1) Its texture is dense and chewy but also creamy, something very difficult to achieve. This makes it an ideal eating cheese, but also perfect for grating.
2) Its flavor is muti-layered. At first, you taste salty then fruity then butterscotch-y then nutty. All of this complexity means that the cheese never tastes the same twice. How mysterious! Plus, its flavor holds up to heat – even more reason to cook with it.
3) Its crystals are crunch-tastic. Piave is filled with crystalized proteins that only the finest aged cheeses possess. These crystals have no flavor, but boy do they make chewing fun!

Eat it straight, grate it on pasta, cook with it, or dip chunks in honey as a quick, rustic dessert. And as if you needed more reason, Piave pairs beautifully with red or white wine.