Quartirolo Lombardo

soft cow's milk cheese shaped like a brick

This soft DOP table cheese from Lombardy goes back to the very early Middle Ages. The curious names dates from the autumn transhumance, when the cows would return from the hilly pastures below the Alps and eat the September grass growing the meadows that sprouted after the third cutting for hay, grass known as 'erba quartirola' (the fourth growth grass) which was known for being very fragrant.

It has a crumbly texture, and is a bit less sweet than Taleggio, the cheese it resembles most. When it's fresh and has a pinkish rind it has a slightly sour taste that mellows as it ages, when the rind turns greyish. After 30 days it is sold as mature.

Quartirolo is served with salads, cold meats or fruit, or with honey. According to the DOP regulations, it can only be made in the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Pavia and Varese, but unlike the old days, it can be made all year.

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