WHAT IS CACIOCAVALLO?
Caciocavallo looks like a cheese that was made into a sad pear. Normally you don’t hear the term “strung up” outside of 50 Shades of Grey. But this cheese is hung from the ceiling while drying. With the neck of the cheese hanging from a rope, gravity causes the formaggio to stretch. This gives it its’ “cavallo” or classic horse shape and thin rind. Versions of this cheese are made in other countries. But the Italian caciocavallo is by far the most famous.
WHERE IS CACIOCAVALLO MADE?
There are many different regional and smoked versions in southern Italy, mostly around Basilicata. The making of it isn’t that different from mozzarella (minus the aging and that the curd can be brined for up to a few days). The D.O.P. (Denominazione Origine Protetta or Name Protected) version is Silano, made in Calabria. While the Italian government only designated this cheese in the 90’s, it is mentioned in classic texts as far back as Hippocrates and Pliny.
ARE THERE VERSIONS THAT ARE AGED FOR YEARS?
Some versions like Podolico can be aged for years. Though unless you’re a caciocavallo connoisseur, you might be putting your tongue in harm’s way at that point. While the cheese can be served aged 30 days, at 2 months it is still considered young.
WHAT CAN I PAIR THIS WITH CACIOCAVALLO?
By itself younger versions can be paired with a nice honey or fig jam. For a cheese plate focusing on Italy and cow’s milk, you can play with the ages by pairing caciocavallo with a nice Parmesan Reggiano and a young, creamy gorgonzola layered with marscapone. Younger cacio’s work well with mild, fruity whites. The older formaggios pair well with more robust reds of at least medium strength. A nice, mild white beer or cider can also work with a younger caciocavallo.