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.