A journey to discover the excellence of Italian food and wine: Sicilian cheese included in the Slow Food Presidia!
We are Roberta Lo Cascio and Laura Martino and together we have founded the Saporite blog, where we focus on discovering and sharing Italian food & wine treasures and in particular those of our region, Sicily.
Sicily is one of the regions in Italy with the highest number of Slow Food Presidia, 47.
Slow Food Presidia sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties, and therefore they are a guarantee of quality for products.
Since last year, we have been Onaf (National Organization of Cheese Tasters) Cheese Tasters and, for that reason, we have decided to dedicate our first article for the Magazine Italia Delight to the Sicilian cheese included in the Slow Foof Presidia or that derives from Presidia.
To make this journey, we will follow the order that we have used during the tastings: we will start with fresh cheese and we will finish with aged cheese.
Let’s discover the types of Sicilian Cheese
In Sicily Slow Food has identified several products to be promoted. In particular, the types of Sicilian cheese included among the Slow Food Sicily Presidia are six:
- Girgentana goat cheese
- Vastedda from the Belice Valley
- Madonie Provola
- Nebrodi Provola
- Piacentinu Ennese
1. Girgentana Goat cheese
In this case, the Slow Food Presidium is not the cheese itself, but the animal it derives from. The Girgentana Goat is a rare and particular species, famous for its long, spiralling horns. The goat is raised in the pasture and its milk is renowned for its quality, due to the excellent balance between fat and protein.
2. Belice Valley Vastedda
It is the only stretched-curd sheep’s milk cheese in Italy. Historically, The Belice Valley Vastedda was made by the skilled cheesemakers in the Belìce Valley during the summer as a way of salvaging defective pecorino cheeses. The name comes from the dialect “vasta”, meaning spoiled, gone bad.
Among the characteristics of this cheese, there is its unique, flat and round shape. It is very delicate, both for perfume and taste, which is buttery and herbaceous. Just one hour after the cheese is made, the Belice Valley Vastedda is ready to be eaten. It is very good if tasted alone but, if paired with extra virgin olive oil, oregano and tomato, Belice Valley Vastedda becomes extraordinary!
3. Madonie Provola
This is a typical full-fat cow’s milk cheese. The Madonie Provola is compact, tender, elastic and it has got a sweet and delicate flavour.
The origin of Maiorchino dates back to the seventeenth century. Even today, at Carnival, in the municipalities of Basicò and Novara di Sicilia (Me), the traditional “ruzzola” takes place with the aged Maiorchino cheeses: the shepherds compete making the cheeses roll along the slope of the main street of the village. It is a cheese made from whole sheep’s milk, with an addition of goat milk (about 20%) and cow milk (sometimes even up to 20%). The Maiorchino is aged between 12 and 24 months.
5. Nebrodi Provola
It is a traditional Sicilian caciocavallo-type cheese, made in the Nebrodi mountains by artisan cheesemakers, who have been passing down the technique through generations. The Nebrodi Provola is made from full-fat raw cow’s milk and with a particular technique: before stretching, the Nebrodi Provola is manipulated for a long time. This technique is similar to that used to knead bread, thanks to which the cheese melts in the mouth.
6. Enna Piacentinu
Enna Piacentinu is a delicious pecorino cheese with saffron. According to the legend, in the eleventh century, Ruggero I, Count of Altavilla, cured his wife Adelasia’s depression by asking local cheesemakers to add a pinch of saffron to their Enna Piacentinu.
Our favorite ones are Girgentana Goat cheese, especially “stracchino” and “robiola”, Belice Valley Vastedda and Enna Piacentinu, but they are all delicious!
Taste the Slow food Presidia in Sicily
We are looking forward to welcoming you soon in Sicily to taste these Sicilian cheeses included in the Slow Food Presidia and many other local specialities …
These photos were taken in Palermo, in the historic “Gastronomia Armetta” shop, which has received from Slow Food the “Good Cheesemonger Award”.
Gino, together with his wife Teresa Armetta, are noble shopkeepers, ready to tell you the story of the products and make you fall in love with every little gesture that is behind cheese making and cured meats.
If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, don’t miss the chance to taste Sicily’s slow food presidia! You will have the opportunity to discover the processing and taste Sicilian cheeses at the farm! Or create your own tailor-made food and wine holidays with the Food Experts, tour operators selected by Italia Delight 😉