Slow Food: Saving Veneto’s Asiago Stravecchio Cheese

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 00:00
Slow Food presidia in Italy

It would be an ‘irreparable damage’, says Slow Food, to lose an extraordinary cheese like Asiago Stravecchio.

Produced in the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni, a high plateau north-west of Vicenza in the Veneto region, Asiago Stravecchio is an 18-month aged cheese obtained from the cows left to grazing in the pastures of the Altopiano.

And it is indeed the 18-month aging time to put Asiago Stravecchio at risk; many cheese producers prefer to sell all of their cheese at an earlier stage, offering a ‘younger’ Asiago (still usually excellent).

The number of cheese producers still making Asiago Stravecchio keeps decreasing, with only a handful left. Seven of them have gathered to form a Slow Food Presidium, aimed at protecting and safeguarding this unique product, and with it the culture and traditions of these mountains, and methods of production that are respectful of the environment.

The area of production comprises the seven ‘comuni’ of Asiago, Conco, Enego, Foza, Gallio, Lusiana, Roana, Rotzo; cows must be left to graze in the pastures of the Altopiano, and all industrial animal feeds and GMO products are forbidden. For optimal results, Asiago Stravecchio must be produced in the summer months, from June to September.

When ready, Asiago Stravecchio is an exceptional cheese with a wonderful complexity of aromas and flavors, varying from the herbaceous to the fruity, with hints of toasted hazelnuts, grilled bread, ripe fruit, and spicy notes. A delicate balance of flavors that cheese lovers won’t fail to appreciate.

Asiago Stravecchio can be enjoyed on its own, or with the local mostarda (mustard) or the local sopressa (cured meat) from Vicenza; it is also a fantastic ingredient for risotto and fondues.