Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ciao Angelo

Ciao Angelo is one of the most popular cheeses in our little market here in Gainesville, Georgia.  It is essentially an Aged Gouda generically speaking since the Netherlands has not restricted the name to the locality of the town of Gouda.  Ciao Angelo is also marketed as "an Italian-style cheese from Holland" which refers to its somewhat winey character.  Some would say it is like a combination of Gouda and Parmesan.  I wouldn't go that far.  It's just good Aged Gouda...with a twist.

Aged Gouda typically features a carmelly and nutty flavor with a hard texture that breaks apart as often as it cuts cleanly with a knife.  The texture, of course, is the result of the aging time.  Regular Gouda is aged up to six months and can easily be worked on a slicer.  Aged Gouda may be aged between nine and eighteen months with the latter version being a truly humbling experience for the novice cheese cutter or the old guy like me.

Ciao Angelo, like most Aged Goudas and some other aged cheeses, has a couple of qualities that endear it to its adherents: its sweetness and its crystals.  The sweetness is easy to explain.  After separating the curd from the whey and sinking the curd into molds, the curd is "washed" with water and that facilitates the sweetening of the cheese.  That step is followed by immersion in brine which really gives the cheese its flavor.  The crystals are a little harder to explain. 

If what we are talking about is "tyrosine" crystals, they result from the coagulation process begun by the addition of rennet to the "casein", the family of related phosphoproteins that make up 80% of the protein in cow's milk. Tyrosine, an amino acid, would be the resultant milk protein crystals in the cheese body.  If the crystal is calcium lactate it would be "a crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate produced later during the ripening process." 

All of the above information, which I hope is true by the way, is from Wikipedia since I was a real loser in Chemistry class.  I do know something about wine and cheese though and I would suggest new world red wine for a change with this one.  Ciao Angelo packs a punch so I suggest Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, or Shiraz/Syrah as a nice accompaniment or even a moderately hefty ale.  Ciao Angelo is also a centerpiece experience.  While it can be a part of a cheese tray, I like the idea of it standing alone with one's beverage of choice.

This Friday, September 7th from 5 to 7pm, Henry Leung, the man who solved the Chinese puzzle according to Wine Spectator magazine, will be here tasting and educating us on why we blend red grapes for superior results.  Henry is always a hit at these things so please join us.

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