I recently visited Taste the 4th Sense in Port Credit, Ontario. They are a store that specializes in gourmet sauces. I went there looking for some hot sauce and while browsing I struck up a conversation with the sales woman. The conversation turned to cheese and she admitted that she was a cheese lover too. We compared cheeses that we have each tried and liked. She told me that her favorite was Italian Piave.
Although I was familiar with most of the cheeses that she mentioned, I had never tried Piave. I put it on my “gotta try” list. A few days later I came across Piave Stravecchio at my local Longo’s supermarket.
Piave comes from the Piave River Valley region of Belluno in Italy. The Piave river originates in the Alps and flows 220km to the Adriatic Sea near Venice.
The milk for Piave comes from the Bruna Alpina breed of cow. These cows are free roaming and they graze naturally on the grass and flowers that grow in the Piave River valley. They drink the water from the highly mineralized Piave River. It’s all part of the formula.
This cheese has a lot of similarity to Parmigiano-Reggiano but it is not aged as long.
Piave is produced with three aging periods. Each aging period produces a cheese with different character.
Piave Fresco is aged 3 to 8 months. (Fresco means fresh)
Piave Vecchio is aged 10 to 12 months. (Vecchio means old)
Piave Stravecchio is aged 14 to 18 months. (Stravecchio means extra old)
The Piave name is impressed into the perimeter rind of the cheese.
I tried the Piave Stravecchio which is the most mature. The Piave becomes more firm with age and the Stravecchio is intended for grating but it still is not as hard as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
How does Piave Stravecchio taste? It tastes like an immature Parmesan, with less salt and more sweet. It has a wonderful semi-hard texture and a nice balance. It is a mild smelling cheese with a faint sweet fruity smell. I like Parmigiano-Reggiano and I eat it plain or grated. However, now that I have tried Piave, I think I will use the Parmesean more for grating and flavoring and the Piave more for eating. This cheese would be good on the cheese board. My wife and kids really like it as well.
Check out this website link for more informative and a video describing Piave Cheese. The video is in Italian with English subtitles.
First of all thanks alot for the awesome blog. I am really impressed by the care you put in being accurate and sincere, which is quite difficult in many respects when discussing cheese.
Regarding piave you may enjoy looking at the official website: http://www.formaggiopiave.it .
There is only 1 producer I believe, it’s quite a Belluno cheese. A correction on aging times:
There are 5 kinds of piaves: frescho (at least 20 days, not 3 months), mezzano (2 to 6 months), vecchio (at least 6 months), and the one you had, called vecchio “oro del tempo”, though I think stravecchio is also in use (at least 12 months), finally the oldest of piave is “gran riserva” (at least 18 months).
I don’t think producers have much incentive to age oro del tempo more than 14 months because cheese is produced all year long and the oro del tempo is not supposed to be really crumbly like parmigiano, it is closer to padano in moisture (and taste as far as I remember), and actually as you probably noticed quite a bit more coherent and elastic, you can slice it thin.
I never tried the gran riserva but the fact that it seems to be much less produced than the oro tells me that piave is not all that interesting (to market at least) as a purely grating cheese, and the coherence of the paste is desired, to distinguish it from larger granas (padano and parmigiano, though padano is also quite attractive to slice).
It’s not impossible that you’ll find me nitpicking on your posts on (european) cheeses, sorry in advance.
Again, thanks for the great blog.