Last night I decided to play around with Mac n Cheese, and went in quest of new cheeses to add to the regular suspects. Normally I use Gruyere, Gouda, Cheddar, and Parmesan, but was feeling like some variety. I thought of using a brie, which I am sure would have been very nice, but many brie’s do not have enough bite, and I like a cheese sauce with a kick. Whole foods was my cheese counter of choice this week, and when I described what I was looking for, they suggested Taleggio, the ‘Italian brie’, as they put it.
Taleggio is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from the Val Taleggio region in northern Italy, near Lombardy. It’s not as sweet as a brie, but instead has some earthy, meaty flavors and a little bit of a bitter tang. The sweetness of the cream cuts this nicely though, to make a very pleasant combination. The texture is very similar to last week’s cheese, Mt. Tam, and similarly, melts beautifully.
While I used Taleggio for a cheese sauce and enjoyed it in that form, I would recommend it by itself, as a brie alternative on sandwiches, or simply spread on some sourdough bread. I feel most cheeses pair well with sourdough, but especially a cheese like Taleggio that has its own assertive flavor, but will not compete with the flavor of the sourdough.
Despite it not grating as easily as my other hard cheeses in my Mac n Cheese last night, flavor-wise Taleggio was a rather perfect addition to the strong flavors or Gruyere and Aged Gouda. I am glad the experiment worked and led to the discovery of a new cheese.