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Introducing Pecorino Toscano Fresco from Il Fiorino

For a while
now, Zuercher & Co. has been carrying one of our all-time favorites
Pecorino Riserva del Fondatore from Caseificio Il Fiorino. So, when we were presented
with the opportunity to try their Pecorino Toscano Fresco, we jumped at the
opportunity. It’s not usual that we find a younger cheese has a lot of
character, so our hopes were high, and this did not disappoint.

As much as
we love the aforementioned aged Pecorino Riserva, we appreciate the smaller
size of Il Fiorino’s Pecorino Fresco. Each wheel weighs only 2 kilograms (about
4.4 pounds) and is aged for a minimum of 20 days. The texture of the paste is
fairly toothy considering its age, but melts nicely on the tongue upon warming.
However, the thing that really stands out about the cheese is its lingering
flavor. There is a fresh, milky flavor that evolves into notes of fresh hay,
hazelnuts and faint minerality. On the sides of your tongue, you can pick up a
balanced citrusy tang.

The Fiorini
family rooted themselves in the Maremma area of southern Tuscany in the early
1800’s. A number of years later, they acquired agricultural property, and among
other endeavors, dedicated the land to breeding sheep. In 1962, the family
moved its operation to the town of Roccalbegna, an Etruscan area of rocky
ravines and consistent humidity they found to be perfect for aging sheep’s milk
cheeses.

Today, the
cheesemaking operation may have moved to a larger facility, but the dedication
to creating artisan, handmade cheese is still evident. All materials, such as
the sheep’s milk and rennet are sourced from neighboring farms, which also
fulfills the requirements of the DOP designation. Even the salt used is obtained
from nearby Volterra. The wheels are aged naturally in Il Fiorino’s
well-ventilated caves and aged traditionally on wooden boards.

Serve
Pecorino Toscano Fresco simply; a light salad, a bit of cheese and bread is all
you need for a delicious lunch. Well, maybe one thing is missing…wine, of
course! White wines fare best with this younger cheese. If you want to stay
within the Tuscan vein, a crisp Vernaccia di San Gimignano, with a decent
amount of minerality, will pair well. If you prefer something with a little
more body, try an Orvieto Classico; its bright acidity is rounded out by the
fruit-forward, floral characteristics of this blend.

(Roccalbegna, Italy.  The hometown of Il Fiorini