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soft white cheese in many forms

Although the name comes from Robbio Lomellina in Piedmont, this is a soft white cheese made from different milks in different styles in different regions. Eat it on its own with cured meats etc; it's also commonly used as a filling for ravioli, tortellini and so on. (To add to the confusion, in Cuneo province, where much of it is made, robiola is often called toma).

robiola di Roccaverano DOP: The most famous of the Robiolas and the only historic Italian goat cheese still in production; a compact, tangy artisinal cheese with a distinct cake-like texture is made in Roccaverano, Piedmont, from the milk of a special breed of goat that was at the point of disappearing in 1990 when Slow Food’s Ark of Taste took up the cause to preserve this heritage cheese. Today, with the delicate, slightly nutty flavour of the mountain meadows it’s one of Italy's top goat's milk cheeses, to the extent that it even won a prize for the best chèvre in a competition in France, which takes goat’s cheese more seriously than anyone. The best are made of 100% goat's milk; the DOP rules allow a large percentage of cow's milk as well.

robiola d’Alba (or toma d’Alba) made around Alba in Piedmont, is a goat’s milk cheese with a buttery paste that splits neatly in two when cut.

robiola del Bec: ‘Billygoat’ (bec or becco in Piedmontese dialect), another cheese adopted by Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. It’s made in Roccaverano and Acqui Terme only in October and November, when the goats are mating and the milk is exceptionally rich, and generally eaten fresh.

robiola di Ceva or Mondovì: a local cheese, produced from Piedmontese cows, in small white cylinders.

robiola di Cocconato: produced in Asti province, this is a very soft cow’s milk cheese prepared in flat rounds with a delicate sour taste.

robiola in Cenere: a buffalo milk cheese from Campania, rolled in ashes.

robiola fresca: the Sicilian version, from Agrigento province.

ficu: a special figgy robiola from Sicily's southern coast; made with rennet from figs, and wrapped in a fig leaf.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: canada cheeseman