Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bella Vitano

So, there’s blended scotch, and then there’s blended cheese. Take Bella Vitano, a Parm-Cheddar hybrid created by Sartori, a third-generation cheese company in Plymouth, WI. It’s got the sweetness of a Parmesan alongside the sharpness of a cheddar, and its texture is somewhere in between: flaky and yet firm, not rock hard.

I was curious about this award-winning brick, which Sartori developed for their stable of “Reserve” cheeses, including a Raspberry cheese made with New Glarus Rasberry Beer. The web site feels very different from most companies that call themselves “artisanal” – forget pictures of grazing cows, there’s a lot of jargon about “designer cheese” and something called “Intensa” cheeses, which are billed as having “true-to-taste artisan flavor” at a fraction of the cost. Hmmm.

I get it. So, it’s like you’re getting the taste of a single-malt for the price of a lesser scotch. Unfortunately, we all know you get what you pay for. That said, Bella Vitano is an interesting cheese. Does it live up to its hype? No, not in my book. Maybe I’m a grumpy puss, but I’d rather eat a killer Parm or a really good bandaged cheddar, rather than fusion käse.

Bellavitano has a sour, faintly yogurty aftertaste. The sharpness is excellent, the sweetness a little too sweet perhaps. When I loaded it into an omelet, it melted well but didn’t retain much flavor. Alongside a bowl of salty split-pea-and-ham soup, it was at its best. It also paired well with meaty green olives and crispy flatbread. In fact, it’s the only cheese I know of that actually tastes better when eaten on a cracker.

I’m always up for trying a new cheese, but I guess I’m a purist. Some things, like a fruity Parm and a sharp cheddar, are simply good enough in their true forms. There’s no need to cross-pollinate. 

9 comments:

  1. Glad to know I'm not the only grumpy-puss. It's a nice cheese but I couldn't agree more about there being other, better cheeses out there.

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  2. Agreed-- no need to combine what's already perfect-- a good cheddar or a good parm doesn't need to be messed with!

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  3. Nice...nice you say? I think that Bella Vitano is one of the best cheeses that I have ever tasted. I find that it always gets rave reviews at parties and a local wine shop advised me that it is their top seller. I like to buy it right at the factory in Antigo.

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  4. blends are fun, i.e. a wine by D'Arenberg called, "Stump Jump" - blend of: grenache, shiraz and mourvedre. well, really any wine. pure can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and can be softened by compliments of other grapes or methods...kind of like people. however, pure bred anything i respect too. nonetheless - i love all cheeses, more unpasteurized, the better. ;)

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  5. I served a cheese platter to a famous Montreal chef. Three artisan raw milk cheeses and bellavitano-merlot. Bellavitano took the blue ribbon hands down. This man from the perigord region has eaten them all, believe me. But he pointed to the Bellavitano with gusto while still chewing.

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  6. just tasted this for the first time and we love it. It has a very nice nutty flavor that goes great with sauvignon blanc and fresh fruit.

    Would I replace parm or cheddar with this . . . maybe not in many places but I will be serving it to guests & I bet it will get rave reviews.

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  7. Dear Madame Fromage,

    I bow to your superior cheese knowledge.

    Your friend,

    Parsley

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  8. Seattle food loverMay 8, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    I must disagree. I fell in love with Bellavitano gold at first bite. It is now my favorite cheese to eat straight.

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  9. I'm actually from Plymouth, Wisconsin, and although I'm no cheese expert (and believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion), Bellavitano is my very favorite cheese. I haven't had any variety other than the Merlot, but dipped in some good Balsamic vinegar and eaten with a hunk of crusty bread, it's one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. It's also great with strawberries (or fruit of any kind...cantaloupe was fantastic paired with the cheese).

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