Agnolotti al plin Cheese from Piedmont

If you have ever visited Piedmont, Italy’s famous wine region, you have probably sampled the local specialty known as agnolotti al plin. These tiny handmade ravioli are sealed with a pinch (“plin” in local dialect).

The same word came to mind at Piedmont’s Caseificio Reale when it came time to name a petite goat cheese that the dairy had created. To judge ripeness, cheesemakers pinch the little disk. If the rind just begins to pull away from the interior paste, the cheese is ready to wrap and ship.

Christened Plin di Capra – “capra” is the Italian word for goat – the cheese weighs about 2 ounces and stands little more than an inch tall. Despite its name, Plin di Capra includes a touch of cow’s cream – about 2 percent – to give it a little more richness and lushness. Mixing milks for cheese is common in Piedmont, where cows, sheep and goats often share the landscape.

The importer estimates that the cheese leaves the dairy at about 2 weeks old. It travels by air and so, theoretically, could arrive at Bay Area cheese counters a few days later. At three weeks of age, the bloomy-rind Plin would probably still be soft and a little squishy, but the examples I’ve encountered have been obviously older than that. They had dried down to about 1 1/2 ounces, and the bloom on the rind was fading. I don’t consider that a decline, just a different stage of life.

At this more advanced age, the cheese has a firm ivory interior that’s a little darker at the edges. The aroma shows some animal notes; the texture is dense and palate coating, yet not gummy. The flavor starts with sweetness and finishes with a pleasant sour-milk tang.

This cute little button of a cheese is the perfect size to share two ways, with a green salad. Pour a white wine with vigorous acidity, like a Sancerre or Sauvignon Blanc.

Look for Plin di Capra at Cal Mart, Rainbow Grocery and Lucca Delicatessen in San Francisco; at Cheese Board in Berkeley; Pasta Shop in Oakland; and Woodlands Market in Kentfield. original article

 


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