Breaking into a wheel of aged Parmigiano Reggiano has been compared to cracking open happiness. The cracking or opening of a wheel of cheese is also a tradition over 900 years old that requires five different types of knives and a unique skill to be able to cut the wheel in half and still retain its crystalline and crumbly texture. Using special knives the cheese wheel is scored down the middle of the top and down the sides while another knife is inserted into the center of the top of the wheel. The wheel is “encouraged” to open along the scored lines and persuaded to crack by the knives. The aroma that is released once open is creamy, nutty and irresistible. This year, Primeaux Cheese+Vino will celebrate Parmigiano Reggiano night with a traditional Parm Cracking.
Parmigiano Reggiano, more commonly known in English as Parmesan comes exclusively from the Parma region of Italy and has a history dating back 900 years. For centuries Parmigiano Reggiano has been considered the “king of cheese” with its amazing taste and crystalline texture. Parmigiano Reggiano is an extremely delicate and well-protected product, produced specifically in the towns of Parma, Modena, Reggio Emilia, and small portions of Bologna and Mantova. In fact, there are only 400 licensed producers of the product in all of Italy.
As Parmigiano Cheese buffs like to say, the production of Parmigiano Reggiano starts at the cow. In order for a farm to produce milk for Parmigiano cheese, it must feed its cows cereals and hay that is grown only in the region of Emilia Romagna. It is thought that by keeping this production completely localized, it is easier to regulate and maintain its quality standards.
Cheese Monger Facts
The rind of a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel, though chewy, is completely edible. So when you get down to the end, toss it into simmering soup, stew or pasta sauce. After it softens, remove dice and return the bits to the pot.
Many who taste Parmigiano Reggiano assume its subtle crystal-like texture comes from salt, but in fact, it is due to protein crystals that form when amino acids break down during the aging process. The longer the cheese ages, the more lovely “crystal” crunch to enjoy.
The rind of the wheel is edible and used in soups and even as teething rings for babies.
In Italy, you can replace the “apple a day” with Parmigiano Reggiano. It is considered a necessary daily food for young children, pregnant women, sick, elderly.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of the provinces of Mantua and Bologna, on the plains, hills, and mountains enclosed between the rivers Po and Reno. This is the area hosting four thousand farms where the cattle are fed on locally grown foliage.
Each cheese is given a unique, progressive number using a casein plate and this number remains with it just like an identity card
Make your plans to join us for this family event. Stay tuned for more details or call our resident cheesemonger Crystie Roach at 205.623.5593 Bon Appetite!