The Caseificio Sociale in Ponte di Barbarano, just a few miles north of our paese, recently opened its doors to the community for tours and tastings. Always ready to get to know our adopted home better, I insisted that we attend and then invited a couple of neighbor children to join us. The little people, having visited the popular cheese shop before, were not very enthusiastic about the invite to explore inside the factory; the sense of smell is a powerful thing.
|Aged Over 20 Months|
Grana Padano is this region's equivalent to Parmigiano Reggiano. Of course, some say it doesn't compare while others think it superior. It's not the same thing, nor is it intended to be so. It's a matter of taste ... or likely birthplace. A certain exaggerated loyalty to home exists here. I can't relate to that at all. (winkwink) You can read more about this history of this cheese here.
|Created October 28, 2011|
I wish I could offer a great explanation with these pictures. The tour was in Italian and the factory was a surprisingly noisy place. Background noise significantly lowers my comprehension level. I did get the gist of it at times; essentially, it's a lot of work with many quality control checks. And wouldn't you know it, I found a website that explains the entire process.
We saw two warehouses, each with row upon row of cheese wheels. What we did not see are the cows! This is a cooperative, so the milk comes from dairy farms throughout the area. I always thought that the smell that emanates from the popular cheese shop came from the cows out back. Not so.
At the conclusion of the tour we had a chance to taste the grana as well as other cheeses made in the factory. These cyclists are pretty typical of our area, too! Loads of spandex in the Colli Berici. Loads.
The cheese shop is very popular among the locals and is generally very, very busy, especially around the holiday time when the demand for cheese increases, I suppose. The caseificio also creates a selection of other cheeses from ricotta to marscapone to stracchino to Asiago. All good.
Monday - Saturday (Closed Wednesday afternoon)
Just follow Riviera Berica until you reach Ponte di Barbarano; you can't miss the giant cheese wheel.