WHAT IS PECORINO?
Pecorino is a generic term used for Italian cheeses that are 100% sheep’s milk. It is often used as a grating cheese over pasta and other warm dishes. However the term “pecorino” is a sad little orphan without the family it grew up in. There are pecorinos made in Romano (Rome), Toscano (Tuscanny), Sardo (Sardinia) etc each region has its’ own variation and charm. But the most well known and not coincidentally cheapest is Pecorino Romano. Like with white Stilton in the U.K., there are a variety of additive cheese versions (walnut, pepper, etc) as well.
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WHERE IS PECORINO MADE?
Buy a bus ticket at random and they probably have a local version of a this sheep’s milk cheese. P.D.O. (name controlled) cheeses will have their place of origin in their name. Therefore you won’t be hearing about a traditional “Pecorino Bob” anytime soon.
A U.K. CELEBRITY BRINGS PAINFUL INNOVATION TO ITALIAN CUISINE?
Ok, so pecorino cheese is a classic staple in Italian carbonara recipes. A while back British foodie Nigella Lawson created a variation on Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The negative backlash was almost immediate. As one Italian put it on Ms. Lawson’s Facebook page “Uova, Pecorino, Guanciale, Pepe, Arte. L’arte della cucina Italiana non è un modo di pensare. ” For non-Italians, this is an Italian ingredient recipe list along with a note not to mess with it. To the 4 people that will one day read this post that I’m writing in my local bar, I call bullshit. The recipes of tomorrow come about by clashing, fighting, fusing and essentially shagging the traditional recipes of yesterday. If you want to attack the chef’s choice of name for a new recipe, come up with a better one first. Yes, Italy has a history and culture of great food. But is attacking creative people trying to create new recipes going to push food forward? To see her recipe click here!
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH PECORINO ?
In terms of pairing in general, this is a deceptive question. Are you pairing to a non-flavored, pure sheep’s milk pecorino cheese? Then Chianti wines in general are safe bets. But maybe you have an additive cheese with walnuts or pear, etc)? Then you are pairing to the added flavor in the cheese. The fat in this formaggio is a great vehicle to transmit added flavors, so choose a wine that matches it. For cheese flights, if Italian try a nice smoked caciocavallo and a washed rind taleggio for a flavor explosion! If you want to be more international, try different milk types like a French Beaufort d’Ete and a Spanish cow’s milk Mahon.