The 14-month cheese broke easily, was powdery and less oily, while the 36-month old cheese was harder to break, and was far more crumbly and oily. We then inhaled the aroma and categorized the aromas as lactic, vegetal, floral, fruit, toasted, animal, or spicy. The younger cheese smelled milky and floral, while the older cheese smelled pungent, lactic and slightly animal. Lastly, we enjoyed the sensations of sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami flavor on the tongue for each of the three ages of Parmigiano Reggiano. The 14-month cheese tasted mild, sweet and creamy, while the 36-month cheese was more harsh, tangy, salty and sharp.
We were treated to a variety of appetizers prepared by Chef Costanzo Astarita, executive chef of Baraonda, Publik Draft House, and Fig Jam. The appetizers highlighted Parmigiano Reggiano at various stages n the aging process. For example, ricotta and butternut squash agnolotti was topped with a froth made with the 14-month aged cheese, while Roman gnocchi with lamb ragu was prepared using the 36-month cheese.
A gelato made with the 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar was a true testament to the cheese’s versatility. Platters of gorgeous charcuterie (prosciutto, speck, salami) along with an array of sauces (fig preserves, sorghum syrup, truffle honey) were set out to allow students to sample with the 3 different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano. Don Hackett of Sherlock's Wine Merchant was on hand to pair several amazing Italian varietals (Barbera, Brunello, Sangiovese) with the cheeses as well.
Nancy Radke, Director of the U.S. Information Office of Parmigiano Reggiano addressed the group shaing that Parmigiano Reggiano Academy is the result of 20 years of research conducted by Dr. Mario Zanoni and many other EU scientists working in the area of sensory analysis of cheese. Using models developed in the wine industry, they have come to understand vital sensory cues people use when they encounter a piece of cheese.
The goal is that by the end of 2014, the Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano, the quality control and marketing board for, will have introduced thousands of consumers to the art of cheese tasting not just for Parmigiano Reggiano, but for other types of cheeses as well. She also asked students to join in the fastest growing global virtual dinner party #DinnerTogether which will be held this year on Saturday, October 25th. For more information, please visit Parmesan.com.
Photos by Erik Meadows Photography<a href="http://www.hypersmash.com/hostgator/" id="nr688">visit page</a>