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cheese

Vento d'Estate

I've been intrigued by this cheese for a while now. It's a bar­rel-aged cow's milk cheese from Italy that has hay pressed into the rind. At the store, where the pre-cut pieces sit on top of the giant wheel, you can see the long strands of hay in the rind. Need­less to say, ven­to d'estate has more than a whiff of the barn­yard. It's tasty, with a lit­tle tang and a lit­tle sweet sum­mery good­ness. It makes you feel like you are some pam­pered Ital­ian cow, graz­ing in some mag­nif­i­cent field right below a cathe­dral.

4 replies on “Vento d'Estate”

Yeah, I got hay pressed into my rind one sum­mer night when I was makin' out with the sta­ble boy at my par­ents' coun­try house in Vir­ginia. Oh Serge, where are you now? He real­ly knew his way around the tack room.

I saw a cheese like this — or maybe this cheese — and I thought that the hay thing was genius. It remind­ed me of when bee­keep­ers put a lit­tle comb in the bot­tom of hon­ey jars. But, on one hand, you're like, "Cool." But then when you real­ize that there's not much prac­ti­cal use for that comb, oth­er than chew­ing, you feel sort of cheat­ed. So, does the hay have any prac­ti­cal use? Or is it just there to make you feel like you're get­ting real cheese that has been aged in someone's barn loft?

Lots of things get pressed into cheese rinds—I think it adds to the fla­vor. For instance, the green stripe in Hum­boldt Fog comes from veg­etable ash, and a very tasty cheese called Pepe Senese has pep­per crust­ed into the rind. The Ital­ians are drawn to good design, and while some of their nation­al prod­ucts may be con­sid­ered to have slight­ly more flash than func­tion, I don't think that farm­ers are giv­en to wast­ing hay if there was no fla­vor ben­e­fit.

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