Pecorino – A Truly Tuscan Cheese
Posted by Dympna Docherty (30/10/2015)
Like the rest of Italy, Tuscany is well known for its range of fabulous foods. For tourists, sampling the local cuisine is normally a top priority, but with so many tasty treats to choose from, where do you begin? Cheese is a staple part of the Tuscan diet and something the locals excel at producing. Pecorino is probably the cheese most closely associated with the region, so we wanted to let you in on the action.
What is pecorino
A hard cheese made from ewe’s milk, there are four main varieties of pecorino which all have Protected Designation of Origin status. This means only cheese made in certain specific places in Italy can truthfully be called pecorino. The cheese is still made to an original method which dates back thousands of years, having been a staple part of the diet of Roman legionaries and being mentioned in the writings of ancient authors such as Pliny the Elder. This means, when you bite into a piece of pecorino, you are tasting a piece of Italian history.
Romano or Tuscano?
The most popular variety is Pecorino Romano, one of the officially recognised areas of production for which is the Grosseto Province of Tuscany. There is also a local variety, Pecorino Toscano, which is very popular throughout the region. Pecorino Romano tends to be harder and saltier, while the Toscano variety often has a more buttery texture and nuttier flavour. However, this does vary from producer to producer, so the only sensible option is to try as many different varieties as possible!
How to eat it
As a hard cheese, Pecorino is easy to grate or shave and is often used as an alternative to parmesan on pasta and salads. It can also be used at the end of a meal where it is frequently paired with figs, pears and walnuts and drizzled with honey. The Toscano variety is also sometimes incorporated into desserts where its less salty flavour is an advantage.
Where to get it
Pretty much all delis and markets in Tuscany will sell at least one type of pecorino, but it is also worth heading direct to a producer if you can. Corzano e Paterno is a pecorino producing farm halfway between Florence and Siena which also offers tours of their facilities and cheese tasting sessions.
Many of the To Tuscany team are based right here in Tuscany, giving us a fantastic insight into all that’s best about this wonderful region. We are always happy to advise our customers on the best things to do, see and, of course eat, so once you’ve found the perfect Tuscan villa to rent feel free to pick our brains about the rest of your trip.