A close cousin to Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano was created in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle. Popularity of the cheese grew rapidly and by 1200 a large number of cheesemakers were making Grana Padano. The main areas of production today are Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto, and in the provinces of Trento, Bologna, Ferrara, Forlì, Piacenza and Ravenna.
Grana Padano is a hard cheese produced from raw, semi-skimmed cow's milk and often aged for up to two years. Wheels weigh a hefty 80lbs. and the thick rind is a dark straw color that can become slightly oily when warm.
The interior paste of the cheese is a pale butterscotch, closely textured and dense with no "eyes," or holes.
Flavors are fragrant and taste of caramel, butterscotch and tropical fruit flavor with hints of pineapple.