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.