Parmigiano Reggiano from Cravero
Giorgio Cravero’s family has selected and aged Parmigiano Reggiano in Bra, Italy since 1855. Just off the main drag of the town of Bra, home to Slow Food’s biennial Cheese festival, lie the halls of Cravero. Twenty-foot high rooms that hold five thousand wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano. Cravero’s wheels rest on pine and they turn their wheels more frequently than other agers with an aim to
make a softer, less cakey texture.
Aging rooms like Cravero’s have long been a part of the cycle of making and selling Parmigiano Reggiano, much like they are for other long-aged cheeses like Comté and Gouda, cheeses whose lengthy affinage represents a real cash flow issue to farmers and cheesemakers.
The consorzio that unites Parmigiano Reggiano makers and protects their cheese’s recipe has, by almost any measure, done an amazing job. They have created the single most admired—and eaten—cheese in the world. In doing so, however, they have removed the identity of the maker and ager, giving the appearance that it's a commodity.
Cheesemongers know better
People may have a sense that Parmigiano Reggiano is an interchangeable cheese, one wheel no better than another. But while its production is controlled by a strict PDO, there’s nothing in the rules that says farmers, makers and agers can’t try to do better. Some do—and you can taste it.
The milk for Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano comes from Caseificio Sociale San Pietro, among the mountains of Benedello di Pavullo, pictured. The diverse mountain ground cover that the cows eat gives these cheeses a distinct terroir, a flavor that can’t be replicated from lowland grass. It earns them the coveted seal Prodotto di Montagna, a designation the consorzio reserves for amazing, high altitude cheeses.
San Pietro's cheesemaker, Massimo, tends to seven wheels of cheese he makes every day. He's one of the only 30 of the 353 Parmigiano Reggiano cheesemakers allowed to stamp their cheese as Prodotto di Montagna. It's exclusively imported by us at Essex St. Cheese.