Marvelous Melters: Grana and Mountain Cheese

Gruyere with Grapes

Welcome to the latest chapter in the “Cheese In Depth” series. In the last installment, we began to explore the largest category of cheese, the aged cheeses.  Now, we continue into a subcategory of aged cheeses:  the Grana and cooked-curd cheeses, veritable mammoths of the cheese case.

A collective palate shift: Reggiano wheels, once a rarity beyond specialty shops, are now often spotted at mainstream upscale grocery stores.

Early in my cheese career, working the cheese counter at Central Market in Austin, TX, one of my favorite moments came with the school tours when a dozen or so munchkins would come explore the world of food.  Rounding the corner into the cheese department and being , the inevitable reaction:  shrieks of  “CHEEEEESE!!” followed quickly by “Is that real?” Dwarfed by the massive, 15-wheel display of gorgeous, golden 75 pound wheels Parmigiano Reggiano,  kids – and most adults — could barely believe the sheer size of the wheels.

In the late 90′s, whole wheels of cheese were not commonplace in the heart of Texas or anywhere beyond big city foodie meccas like New York and San Francisco.  That they are increasingly ubiquitous today, showing up solo at upscale markets across America, a testament for how much our collective palate has shifted in just a few short years.

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