Cascaval is Italian Caciocavallo’s Romanian cousin: a yellow, firm pasta filata cheese made using cow and/or sheep’s milk that’s kneaded until smooth and shiny. It’s commonly believed that the name caciocavallo resulted from the cheese having been attached to ropes on either side of a horse’s (cavallo’s) back—though some historians trace cascaval to the language of the native Balkans who moved to mountain pastures in the summertime.
Cascaval often has no rind and a uniformly firm yellow paste. Generally aged for about six months, its flavor is mild, salty, and slightly sharp. Some versions are smoked, imparting the cheese with added personality.
Cascaval can be found cooked, in sandwiches, or served as a snack; a pilsner makes for a perfect pairing. Ubiquitous in Romanian cuisine, it’s popular in cascaval pane (the cheese is coated in breadcrumbs and fried) and mamaliga cu branza, a filling, polenta-like mix of cornmeal, sour cream, and cheese.
(P.S: We went to Romania for our Spring 2017 issue: Check out our must-eats!)