Last week I was lucky enough to join a group of my fellow food bloggers at La Scuola di Eataly for the most recent installment of Parmigiano Reggiano Academy. Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano is celebrating its 80th anniversary; in honor of this milestone, they're hosting both in-person and online classes dedicated to learning all about this delicious cheese. As I'm sure you're all aware by now, I am a fan of all things cheese, and I'm most definitely a fan of food mecca (aka Eataly), so of course, I was thrilled to join the Academy for a night of cheesy fun. ;-)
I started my evening with a sensory analysis session in which instructors led us through a full sensory experience of Parmigiano Reggiano that had been aged 14 months, 24 months, and 36 months. We started out by examining the texture and color of each cheese sample and learned that it goes from beige to golden as it ages. We then moved on to smelling each individual piece (cheese gets more pungent as it ages), and finally, the tasting portion in which we learned how the aging process breaks down the fat, leaving the cheese more flavorful.
Personally, I liked the 24 month sample the most; apparently, I'm not in the minority, as most Americans prefer the same (I was actually a bit surprised by this, as I tend to gravitate toward fairly strong cheeses). I also learned that the best way to taste the complexities of the flavor profiles of various cheeses is to plug your nose while tasting - yes, you may look a bit crazy, but it makes a huge difference!
Sensory analysis session in action
Along with the sensory analysis sessions, we were treated to meat and wine pairings, along with some fantastic dishes highlighting Parmigiano Reggiano created by Eataly's Chef Adam Weisell.
Parmigiano Reggiano Flan with zucchini and mint relish
Butternut Squash Polenta topped with a Parmigiano Reggiano zabaglione and fresh sage leaves
Grilled Pear with basil, almonds, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
You can learn more about Parmigiano Reggiano (and complete your own sensory analysis!) from the comfort of your own home through Parmigiano Reggiano Academy.