Italian Cheeses

Formaggio Italiano: The Slice on our DOP Cheeses

By Amanda Philipow

Published November 2022

There aren’t too many foods that can’t be made better with a little cheese. That’s why our team is passionate about providing as many tasty, affordable options as possible when you visit our delis. From gouda to Gruyère, our cases are packed with cheeses of every taste and texture from all over the world, including locally made options from our own backyard.  

Now there’s no denying that Italy is home to some of the most delicious foods in the world, so when it comes to the Italian cheeses you’ll find in our markets, authenticity is the name of the game. Five of the fabulous formaggi you’ll find in our deli cases and within our prepared foods are imported directly from trusted cheesemakers across Italy — but how did these relationships come to be?

First came the Parmigiano Reggiano. Through our existing relationship with the Simonini family of Modena, co-founders of Soleterra d’Italia, our team was introduced to the Ferrarini family — third-generation farmers and a wealth of knowledge in the world of cheese. The Ferrarini’s farm provides milk to a Parmigiano Reggiano plant in a small village called Poggioli, with a spectacular facility that our team was fortunate enough to tour back in 2018.  After seeing (and tasting) this iconic cheese firsthand, it was obvious that we had to introduce it into our markets. 

But the search for delectable Italian cheeses didn’t stop there! When we decided to expand our offerings, the Ferrarini family introduced us to Albiero, a cheese producer in Montorso Vicentino who crafts two types of Provolone and sources Asiago and Pecorino Romano. With the success of the Parmigiano in our markets, we were excited to bring these four new cheeses to our customers and offer them an experience unlike anything they had shredded, melted, grilled or nibbled on before.

But you might be asking, why go through the time and effort of importing these cheeses all the way from Europe when we could source similar cheeses locally? The answer is simple: DOP.

Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (or Protected Designation of Origin for those of us who aren’t quite fluent in Italian) is essentially a quality stamp of approval. DOP certification means that the product meets the highest standard based on a few requirements:

  • The product is produced within designated regions resulting in certain characteristics.

  • The ingredients and product come from a specific location that has been designated by the government to produce the food.

  • Every part of the product is tested and tracked with serial numbers to confirm the exact origins and history of the product.  

This strict regulation ensures that customers are always getting the “real deal” and will never be tricked by a low-quality or inauthentic re-creation. In fact, DOP products are the only products that can have their exact name, too! For example, real DOP Parmigiano Reggiano is a far different product than the Parmesan cheese you’re used to seeing at the grocery store. So if you see the letters “DOP”, you can be sure you’re receiving a product with the highest quality and best flavour available. 

With all this in mind, we’re proud to say that five of our Italian cheeses are DOP! Keep reading to explore these offerings and learn how you can incorporate them into your next Italian feast.

Parmigiano Reggiano 
Region: Modena
Texture: Firm, crumbly, grainy
Flavour: Sharp, fruity, complex, salty
Suggested Pairings: Balsamic vinegar, walnuts, dried fruit
Age Time: 24 months
Fun Fact: We import about 250 wheels of this cheese every year!

Region: Vicenza
Texture: Medium firm and compact
Flavour: Notes of hay, nuts and butter
Suggested Pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon, concord grapes
Age Time: Four to six months
Fun Fact: This particular Asiago is only available at Sunterra!

Pecorino Romano
Region: Sardinia
Texture: Firm, dense
Flavour: Aromatic, lightly spicy
Suggested Pairings: Honey, fruit preserves, prosecco
Age Time: Nine months
Fun Fact: This cheese is made with sheep’s milk and is still crafted today using over 2,000 year-old traditional methods  

Provolone Dolce
Region: Montorso Vicentino
Texture: Elastic, soft
Flavour: Sweet, delicate
Suggested Pairings: Savoury chutney, mustard, flatbreads
Age Time: One month
Fun Fact: Provolone is a stretched-curd cheese like mozzarella 

Provolone Piccante
Region: Montorso Vicentino
Texture: Soft yet compact
Flavour: Aromatic, lightly spicy
Suggested Pairings: Ham, figs, roasted red peppers
Age Time: Six months
Fun Fact: Piccante literally means “spicy” in Italian

Try all five cheeses for yourself on Stockboy Special throughout November, and be sure to share your favourite pairings with us on social @sunterramarket.

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