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Archive for June 15, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Multi-Task With Parmigiano-Reggiano

The “king of cheeses.” Photo of
Parmigiano-Reggiano by Yin Yang | IST.


Parmigiano-Reggiano is more than an ingredient in pasta, pesto, risotto, Alfredo sauce and other recipes. It‘s a gourmet multi-tasker.

  • Shave it onto salads.
  • Enjoy it as a snack with a glass of hearty red wine.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano loves to be paired with apples, figs, grapes, kiwi, peaches, pears and walnuts.
  • Italians enjoy it for dessert, drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.
  • Include it on the cheese plate. For a different take on the cheese course, serve large chunks of the cheese with a variety of dipping sauces, such as pesto, garlicky tomato sauce, olive tapenade, parsley sauce and fruit chutney.
    The more aged the cheese, the more robust and exciting the flavors.


  • Get the full scoop on Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Discover the differences between Italy’s great grating cheeses: Parmigianio-Reggiano, Asiago, Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano.
  • Know the correct spelling! In a Google search today, 33,100 people chose the correct spelling, Parmigianio-Reggiano. But 40,500 people are looking for Parmigiano Regianno and 33,100 seek Parmigiano Regiano.
    Why is Parmigiano-Reggiano spelled with capital letters? Because it’s the name of the two cities where it’s produced. More about that immediately below.

    “Parmesan” cheeses can be made anywhere in the world. But by law, authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can be produced only in the Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua and Bologna (Parmigiano is the adjective for “of Parma”; Reggiano is the adjectival form of Reggio Emilia). The name is D.O.P-protected.*

    That protected flavor is well worth the price, which is more expensive than generic “Parmesan.”

    Informally, Parmigiano-Reggiano is called the “king of cheeses,” a title it has enjoyed for centuries. Some turophiles will note that Roquefort and Brie have also been called the “king of cheeses”; and Brie is also referred to as the “queen of cheeses.” Why such royal titles?

    The names resulted from different monarchs declaring their love for a particular cheese. The press and the cheese producers picked up on the endorsement and ran with it.

    *D.O.P is an acronym for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, a protected domain of origin that is based on numerous rules and regulations covering where and how a product can be made. It is an agricultural comparison to a trademarked brand. It means that only authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can be labeled and sold as such. This type of branding ensures consumers worldwide that each wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano meets the same high standards (although the flavors, of course, will vary from producer to producer). The label is applied to numerous cheeses, meat and other foods that are the culinary jewels of Italy; for example, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Prosciutto di Parma.


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    FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEA: Blended Scotch Whisky

    Last night we learned how to blend Scotch, courtesy of America’s best-selling Scotch brand, Dewar’s.

    A few decades ago, when single malt Scotch became all the rage, we became a snooty single malt drinker and hadn’t drunk a blended Scotch until now.

    We were missing out!

    Single malt versus blended Scotch is purely a matter of preference, and one can prefer several different styles.


    A single malt Scotch is made entirely by a single producer at a single site. The flavors and aromas are distinctive to the terroir* of the area. Each of the different regions of Scotland produces whisky with flavors and aromas unique to its climate, water and so forth. For example, over the years of aging, barrels on Islay, an island region, pick up a hint of saltiness from the sea.

    *Terroir, a French word pronounced tur-WAH, is the unique combination of geographic location, climate and microclimate, soil and temperature that creates the individual personality of an agricultural product. As in the growing of grapes for wine or beans for coffee, terroir dramatically affects the flavor profiles of the product.


    The four expressions of Dewar’s blended
    Scotch whisky. From left: White Label,
    12 Years, 18 Years and Signature. Photo courtesy Dewar’s.


    Blended Scotch created by mixing the distillations (Scotches) from multiple single malt producers. By selecting particular single malts, the blender can achieve the exact flavor combination desired, with more balance and complexity.

    Examples include honey and floral flavors from Highland Scotches, fruity flavors from Speyside, vanilla flavors from Lowland Scotches and peaty flavors from Islay. Dewar’s blends can contain up to 40 different single malts and grain whiskys (a whisky that contains some grains other than malted barley, such as corn, rye or wheat) to attain the perfection the blender seeks.
    If you don’t know a drinker’s preference and select a single malt, it may not be the profile the recipient prefers. With a fine blended Scotch, the balance and harmony are generally enjoyed by anyone.

    The proper glass† to “nose” Scotch is a sherry copita, also called a single malt whisky glass. It resembles a tulip, and can be used for any fine whisky. The lip turns outward to catch the aromas of the whisky.

    Why is it there so often a gap between our preferences and our pocketbook?

    While all of the Dewar’s expressions are very fine, we fell in love with the masterpiece of the portfolio, Dewar‘s Signature (upwards of $200). The nose burst with aromas of luscious Seville orange and a touch of peat. On the palate, orange and chocolate notes were accented with honey, vanilla, toffee and caramel overtones. It was dessert in a glass, and a real treat.

    For everyday, we’re going back to the very affordable Dewar’s 12 Years—which, by the way, is also made in a kosher expression: Dewar’s 12 Year Old Special Reserve.

    †Professionals and connoisseurs use different shaped glasses to fully enhance the flavors and aromas of fine wines and spirits. It really does make a difference!

    In Ireland and the United States, the word “whiskey” is spelled with an “e.” The British, Scots and Canadians spell it “whisky.” To be perfectly correct, you’d use “whiskey” when referring to an Irish or American product; and “whisky” when referring to the others. But most people in the U.S. use the spellings interchangeably.

    Etymologists don’t know why the variations exist. The best explanation is that the Irish had whiskey first, and when the Scots started to make it, they left out the “e” to point out the difference between their spirit and Irish whiskey.

    We’ll drink to that!

    By the way, April 6th is Tartan Day in Scotland. It commemorates the Scottish Declaration of Independence, upon which the American Declaration of Independence was modeled.

    Raise a glass of Scotch, toast and enjoy!

    How many types of whiskey are there?

    This article explains it all.


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