There’s more to this mountain cheese than artichoke dip. Discover the history and craft that goes into authentic Asiago.
Asiago is a popular cheese in Canada, often added to dips, pizzas and appetizers. But have you ever tried authentic Asiago cheese from Italy? Known in Italy as the “Product of the Mountain,” true Asiago is made from the milk of cows that are pastured between the mountainous regions of Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige at an altitude of between 600 and 2,300 metres. Authentic DOP-certified Asiago (DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin) is made in four provinces only: Vicenza, Trento, and parts of Padua and Treviso. These alpine pastures are renowned for their unspoiled environment, which in turn produces the highest-quality milk and an exceptional cheese.
Fresh vs. Aged
You’re probably most familiar with aged Asiago, but there is also a fresh variety that has been ripened for only 20 days. Fresh Asiago has a distinctive fresh milk flavour and tang, and it’s ideal for melting. Try it in fillings, to top baked casseroles, or cubed in salads. Aged Asiago, which is ripened for 3 to 15 months, is more full-bodied than fresh and varies in strength of flavour and firmness, depending on its maturity. Grate onto pastas or risottos or savour it on a cheese board.
How Do I Recognize Real Asiago?
Often imitated, this rich gourmet cheese has piquant notes that can’t be replicated. In addition to the regional restrictions, in order to achieve DOP status, it must be produced under strict guidelines. There are a few key labels to look for to know you’re buying the real thing. The word Asiago will be pressed into the rind of the cheese, and the wheel will be branded with the Asiago consortium seal as well as the term Prodotto della Montagna (Product of the Mountain).