Best Italian Cheeses at SoBeWFF

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All photos by Sara Ventiera
Laura Werlin and Andrea Robinson
Italian cuisine represents the ultimate comfort. You'd have to be crazy to say a heaping bowl of pasta doesn't soothe your soul. While Italians are known for living in the moment, when it comes to food they can be rather serious. The perfect example: their cheese. As part of the Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars, held at the Shelborne, Laura Werlin and Andrea Robinson explored the intricate world of Italian wines and cheeses. If you're looking to spice up your next cheese platter -- or just show off to your food-snob friends -- we have the tasting notes on Werlin's picks.

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StraCapra
Made in the four-pound square form of Tallegio, this goat's milk cheese is a milder version of its stinkier cow's milk cousin. Because it's made from goat's milk, it's a lighter cheese with a somewhat creamy texture. Fun cheese-snob fact: Goat's milk cheeses are always lighter in color than cow's milk cheeses because goats don't metabolize beta carotene. Take that, pretentious friend.

Nuvola di Pecora
This sheep's milk cheese just gets better with age -- works out well for those of you who forget to clean out the fridge. Werlin compares the lanolin to a sort of lamb's fat flavor. According to her: "It has a pronounced sheep's milk flavor: not gamey, not barnyardy, but there's definitely some sort of outdoor thing going on."

Pecorino Toscano
Pecora means "sheep" in Italian. This is one of those super-serious Italian cheeses. Hailing from Sienna, this cheese is regulated under the Denominazione D'Origine Protetta (DOP). It is aged a minimum of nine months, but the older cheeses work beautifully as a grating option.

Ubriaco al Prosecco
Just like the namesake wine in the title, this raw cow's milk cheese comes from Veneto. It's soaked in Prosecco, meaning it pairs well with the celebratory wine.

Sottocenere al Tartufo
This ash rind cheese is redolent of cinnamon, licorice, fennel, cinnamon, and truffle. It's ash aging method is actually a Venetian tradition.

Grana Padano
Another DOP cheese, this Parmesan substitute can be aged nine to 24 months. As it gets older, it develops beautiful crystals and a nice hint of nuttiness. While it is somewhat similar, grana padano differs from Parmesan in that it's made entirely of skim milk -- Parmesan is only part skim. Throw that little piece of knowledge on your pompous buddies.

Taleggio Ca De Ambros
This square-molded washed-rind cheese from Umbria is what you would definitely call aromatic--i.e., stinky. Fortunately for your taste buds, it smells stronger than it tastes. Because of the strong odor, it's a difficult one to pair. According to Werlin: "The only way to go with this one is some sweetness or Prosecco."

Blu di Bufala
Just like buffalo mozzarella, this cheese comes from the milk of the water buffalo, not the bison. Another animal that doesn't metabolize beta carotene, this cheese has a light, creamy, and meaty texture. And we're betting that even though it's mild, with the blu, you'll be able to weed out some of the fake cheese-lovers.

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Shine at the Shelborne Hotel

1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Music

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