Category Archives: Pecorino Toscano

On Tour with the Pecorino Toscano Experience

This was one of the most interesting and informative press trips that Michele and I have been on. We tasted Pecorino Toscano in all of it forms, went to a sheep farm, tasted the cheese with wine and with beer, had a cooking lesson and lunch afterward, ate in some very good restaurants, explored the Parco della Maremma, went to two cheese making plants and spent an evening in Siena.

We not only learned about how Pecorino Toscano is produced, but also about the Maremma and the area around Pisa in Tuscany, how to cook with it, and what to drink with it, .

Michele and the wild boar

We stayed in the Villa Fattoria Granducale Alberese which is owned by the Consorzio Tutela Pecorino Toscano DOP.  The Villa was originally a fort built in the 15th century by a Prior of the Order of the Knights of Malta.  It sits in a park like setting on a hilltop.  It has undergone many transformations over the centuries and in the 16th century a chapel was built next to the main structure.

For lunch on our first day we went to Ristorante L’Uva e il Malto in Grosseto.  The menu features seafood and it was very very good.  Afterward,  we took a tour of the historic center of Grosseto.

That night we went to the beach town of Castiglione della Pescaia where we had a tasting of Pecorino Toscano and a locally produced olive oil and other products.

The next day at the Villa Fattoria Granducale Alberese Chef Giuseppe Villani from the nearby cooking school, along with some of his students  conducted a cooking class. Chef Villani demonstrated several dishes made with Pecorino Toscano and some of us helped  helped him prepare them.  In the photo below, he is showing Michele his technique for tossing his homemade pasta together and pecorino Toscano in the pan.

Michele and Chef Villani

For dessert, the chef made these delicious Sardinian cheese turnovers made with Pecorino Toscano.

With lunch we had the wines of Provveditore presented by Cristina Bargagli. We tasted the Il Bargaglino Vermento Maremma Toscana DOC made from 85% Vermentino and 15% Trebbiano Toscano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Ansonica.  The “Casaiolo” Maremma Toscana Rosato DOC made from 50% Sangiovese and 50% Syrah. The “Provveditore” Morellino di Scansano DOCG made from 100% Sangiovese and the “Primo” Morellino di Scansano DOCG Riserva made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Alicante and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Waiting for our ride

That nignt we went on the horse drawn carriage ride in the Parco della Maremma. It took us an hour and a half to cross the Granducale pinewood forest and reach the beach and dunes of Collelungo.

The park is located south of the Maremma coast and it extends for 9,800 hectares from Peincipina a Mare to Talamone. The scenery changed as we passed Mediterranean  scrub, caves, dunes, sand and cliffs.

As the sun was setting we had  dinner on the beach with typical products of the area and a wonderful  Pecorino di Maremma.

By the time we finished it was getting dark and along the route we saw wild boar and wild cattle among other animals I could not identify. Their was some problem on the way back and the had two change the position of the horses. It was quite an adventure!!!

The next day we visited Caseificio il Fiorino were we saw first hand how Pecorino Toscano is made.  We were given a tour of the plant by the owners Angela Fiorino and her husband Simone Sargentoni.  In their natural cheese-aging caves, we tasted the cheese in various forms and toasted the cheesemakers with sparkling wine.  Simone said the company is over 50 years old  and all their products are made with sheeps’ milk from selected local breeding farms.

Producing Pecorino Toscano

Shaping the cheese

The cheese resting in a refrigerated room

The cheese in the aging cave


We went with Simone to a sheep farm where he gets the milk for a cheese.  The flocks are are raised in a limited territory specified by the Designation of Origin Protection (DOP).  The sheep come from different breeds, either those indigenous to Tuscany (mostly from the Massese breed) or those brought from the area of production from other places (Comisans and Sarda). We also saw the sheep being milked.

The next day left Acciaiuolo di Fauglia (Pisa) to visit Caseificio Busti, founded in 1955. Today Stefano Busti along with his son Marco and daughter Benedetta  manage the family company. This is a big operation and includes a large cheese making plant, a retail store and a restaurant. They have maintained the family tradition keeping the crafting method unchanged from the dry salting process, using a type of salt that comes from the nearby salt flats of Volterra, to manual cheese making and the crust treatment using natural products.

Putting tomato paste on the cheese which gives it a beautiful color and slight tomato flavor.

The finished cheese

We had lunch at Ristorante Il Rifocillo and a tasting of Olio Toscano IGP with Fabrizio Filippi,  president of the Consorzio Tutela Olio Toscano DOP.

We tasted the cheese and food with beer by Birrifico Artigianale J63 of winery Torre a Cenaia with Esther Filippi. Esther explained how the beer was made and the most interesting was the one made with 5% Vermentino wine.

 

JLIPS Birra Agricola Toscana con mosto di Vermentino made from water, barley malt, wheat flakes, hop yeast (Top fermentation) and Vermentino grape must 5%.  The style of the beer is Italian Grape Ale. The Vermentino must is added fresh while boiling. Vermentino grapes are grown on the estate. The color is golden yellow and the foam is fine, compact and persistent. It has fresh floral notes with hints of white fruit and grape aromas and nice minerality and a light taste of malt. The Alcohol is 6%. This was my favorite — the addition of  Vermentino  made it very mellow

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We then went to Siena where we were privileged to see the presentation of of the new flag for this years Palio.  Afterward we enjoyed sitting in the magnificent Campo di Siena where we had dinner.

The trip was a real eye opener.  We not only learned a lot about this excellent cheese and all of its varieties, but we enjoyed visiting this remarkably unspoiled part of Tuscany.

 

 

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Cooking with Pecorino Toscano by Michele Scicolone

Chef Giuseppe Villani welcomed us to the kitchen at Villa Fattoria Granducale Alberese in Parco Alberese in Tuscany. The chef and his helpers had been preparing for our cooking class featuring Pecorino Toscano cheese and my colleagues and I on the Pecorino Experience press trip, enticed by the aromas wafting through the door, were anxious to get started.

We were in Tuscany to learn about the region’s iconic cheese, Pecorino Toscano. The name pecorino comes from the Italian word for sheep, pecora. Flocks of sheep graze everywhere on the hillsides in Tuscany and their milk is used to produce a variety of cheeses from fresh ricotta to aged Pecorino Toscano PDO. Different breeds of sheep are raised, and they produce enough milk to supply 17 caseifici (cheesemaking establishments) in the region. Sheeps’ milk cheeses range in flavor from mild and milky when fresh, to nutty and tangy when aged.

Pecorino Toscano DOP

The class began with–what else–a cheese tasting. We tried several varieties of Pecorino Toscano PDO including a fresh variety, aged between 45 to 60 days which was soft and pale yellow in color. The flavor was sweet and rich, and it had a creamy texture. A second variety had been brushed with olive oil before aging which made it slightly drier and more the flavor more concentrated, while the third variety was aged more than 120 days which gave it a flavor of nuts, and dried fruits and a crumbly texture. They all were good for eating with fruits and nuts, honey or jam. The chef told us he uses all three types for cooking.

 

 

The first dish he demonstrated was very simple. He spread coarsely grated Pecorino Toscano – a mix of different varieties – in a baking dish to which he added a generous splash of white wine. After baking, when the cheese was bubbling and melted, he arranged a few anchovies on top (he suggested topping it with prosciutto or black truffles as an alternative). He spooned the bubbling cheese over thin slices of toasted bread and served it with dry white wine. You can be sure I will be duplicating this soon. It’s a great dish for lunch or brunch or to serve as a first course.

 

Next came individual flans with cheese and vegetables, followed by miniature tartlets filled with cheese and guanciale, an Italian version of quiche Lorraine. Then one of the chef’s assistants showed us how to make pici, thick handmade pasta strands. The chef sauced the pasta with “cacio e pepe”, pecorino Toscano cheese and black pepper. He asked me to do some of the pasta tossing, which was a challenge for me given the size of that pan! The pasta was terrific, cheesy, creamy, and peppery.

Tossing the pici with Pecorino Toscano DOP

Meanwhile, the assistants were preparing our dessert, known as fiadoni. They filled tender pastry rounds with a blend of sugar, lemon, eggs and pecorino Toscano before baking them. The little turnovers were irresistible warm, even though I had thought I couldn’t eat another bite.

Since we have been back home, I have been experimenting with other ways to use Pecorino Toscano PDO. Grilled open-faced sandwiches, tossed with green beans and butter, and in a salad have all been big hits. Of course, it is most enjoyable on its own, with a good glass of Tuscan wine.

 

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