“Gorgonzola” cheese really only refers to cheese produced in the city of Gorgonzola, Italy. There are actually a few varieties, but the most popular are Gorgonzola Dolce and Gorgonzola Piccante. The main difference between Dolce and Piccante is that Gorgonzola Piccante’s rind is thicker and dryer. Also, the taste of Dolce is sweet, whereas Piccante is spicy.Gorgonzola by Rachael Black
After some research, I have found that there are many different stories telling of the name origin of this cheese. However, the one from Cowgirl Creamery seems to be the most reasonable.
What we in this country know simply as, “Gorgonzola,” is more formally called “Stracchino di Gorgonzola” in Italy. “Stracchio,” which comes from the Italian word for tired (stracca), illustrates the process of the “tired” cows being milked in the course of their long autumn and spring walks to and from seasonal pastures. The herds would stop for a rest in the Lombardy town of Gorgonzola, resulting in Gorgonzola being flush with milk twice a year, the excess was used to make cheese.Cowgirl Creamery
Other stories talk about how Gorgonzola cheese was invented by accident where mold cultures were unknowingly allowed to grow on a Stracchino cheese and it yielded a moldy cheese, which at the time tasted delicious and motivated cheese makers to reproduce the effect. While, I personally do not believe that you could accidentally grow edible fungi on cheese, it seems to be an important part of the Gorgonzola legend.
I picked up this cheese at Eataly NYC, and was a little hesitant to dive into it because I just don’t have that much blue cheese experience. Needless to say it was indeed tasty. The smell was a little strong at first, but you’re going to want to leave it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving and the smell will dissipate.
I need to buy some more bread from Sullivan St Bakery because I am dying to make a Gorgonzola melt. I think typically most people in the States eat Gorgonzola over salad, but in Italy most often it is eaten over pasta, risotto, alongside polenta… Let’s not forget about its crucial role as a pizza topping! I just found this picture of Gorgonzola tater tots, and not only is it a fusion of Italian cheese and American potatoes, but it looks amazing. So many things to eat, and yet so little time…
I digress. Definitely pick up your own wedge of Gorgonzola and try it out, but keep in mind: particularly Gorgonzola Piccante has a much stronger smell and flavor than Dolce so use it sparingly in recipes.