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AOP Agriform: Cheeses from the Heart of Europe

Every great cheese has a great story, and the stories of AOP Agriform cheeses are especially fascinating. Produced in northern Italy—a region celebrated for its culinary richness and diversity, these five cheeses are some of the world’s best-known and most-cherished. All five bear the red and yellow PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) seal, a trademark given by the EU to products made exclusively in a limited geographical region by skilled local producers, who use specific ingredients and time-honored methods. Their stories are the focus of a campaign by AOP Agriform— an association of producer organizations that partners with Northern Italian dairy cooperatives—to promote the quality and authenticity of agricultural and food products from “The Heart of Europe.”

Grana Padano PDO is the number one selling PDO cheese in the world. Produced in the Padana plain from semi-skimmed cows’ milk, this semi-fat cheese has a hard, finely granular texture, a white or pale-yellow color and is enclosed in a dark yellow rind that is hard, smooth, and thick. It has a fragrant aroma and a characteristic, persistent flavor. It is aged for an average of 16 months. Read more.

Parmigiano Reggiano PDO originated in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in Parma and Reggio Emilia in about the 12th century, and is now also produced in the provinces of Modena and parts of Mantua and Bologna. Made with raw cows’ milk, it is a semi-fat cheese with a hard, finely granular texture, white or pale yellow in color with a natural pale-yellow rind. It is characterized by a full, fragrant, and never piquant flavor. Read more.

Piave PDO is the most famous of the cheeses from the Belluno area, at the foot of the Dolomite mountains, and it is still produced in the traditional manner. Its sweet, penetrating flavor intensifies as it matures. The cheese acquires an increasingly intense pale-yellow color as it ages and becomes more friable, a characteristic typical of grating cheeses. Read more.

Asiago PDO Stagionato is a semi-fat hard cheese with a semi-cooked curd and originates from the Alpine plateau of the same name. It has a smooth, regular rind, compact or granular texture and a pale yellowish color. Depending on its age it is characterized by a milder (Mezzano) or a sharper and more fragrant flavor (Vecchio). Read more.

Montasio PDO is a table cheese typical of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and the north-east of the Veneto region. This semi-hard cheese is characterized by a compact texture with a white or pale-yellow color and regular eyes. The initially smooth, flexible and compact light brown rind progressively dries as aging proceeds, with the cheese becoming granular and friable as it ripens. Read more.

Find AOP Agriform cheeses at these fine retailers

Culture is excited to be partnering with AOP Agriform in supporting cheese retailers around the country with Starter Culture. This exclusive, unique-to-culture program offers an opportunity for retailers to introduce customers to these iconic cheeses, and learn new ways to enjoy, pair, and cook with them. Retailers who want to learn more about the program can reach out to Stephanie Skinner stephanie@culturecheesemag.com.

Caputo’s Market & Deli
Downtown Salt Lake City, UT
15th & 15th Salt Lake City, UT
Holladay, UT

Dawson’s Market
Rockville, MD
Washington, D.C.

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
Great Barrington, MA
Pittsfield, MA

Market Hall
Oakland, CA

Venissimo Cheese
Mission Hills San Diego, CA
North Park San Diego, CA
Del Mar, CA

Ann Arbor, MI

AOP Agriform

AOP Agriform is an Association of producer organisations that partners with some of the most important dairy cooperatives of the North-Eastern part of Italy. Its mission is to promote the cheeses made using milk from the territory of origin and collected by thousands of member farmers.

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