Blue cheeses tend to attract legends: Gorgonzola, made from unskimmed cow's or goat's milk is said to have been created when an amorous farmer, rather than do his evening work, spent the night with his beloved. In the morning, he stirred the curds of the night before in with the morning curds, and created a new cheese.
Named after a town near Milan, Gorgonzola was historically a place where tired herds would gather in the autumn after their summers in the mountains: hence the old name, Stracchino di Gorgonzola.
Gorgonzola claims to have produced the cheese since the 9th century, and today the DOP area extends into nearby towns in Lombardy and Piedmont. Metal rods inserted briefly into the paste during age, creating pockets for the mold spores to develop.
It comes in two distinct versions, young, mild Gorgonzola Dolce (Sweet Gorgonzola) and stronger, more mature Gorgonzola Piccante, with more prominent veins of blue-green. It gets firmer with age, and is frequently used in sauces, including the classic walnut and Gorgonzola pasta sauce. It is usually one of the cheeses on a pizza ai quatro formaggi.
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