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Looking to buy a nice wedge of aged Parmagiano. Suggestions?

soypower Nov 8, 2009 09:58 AM

Can't seem to find my favorite Old Amsterdam aged gouda in my local stores anymore, so I'm looking to pick up a nice aged Parmagiano. Any recommendations on what brand to look for? I've seen Grana Padano around...Any thoughts?


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    adamshoe RE: soypower Nov 8, 2009 11:00 AM

    Costco sells an aged reggiano for $11.00 a pound . It's labeled "stravecchio" which I think is 3 years. They also have grana padano for $8.00 lb. The grana is 6 months aged and good, but not as good as the reggiano. You can NOT find these for less money than @ Costco.

    15 Replies
    1. re: adamshoe
      Paulustrious RE: adamshoe Nov 8, 2009 11:54 AM

      Agreed. Good stuff at a good price. You can also buy it on Amazon. I cannot do that as I am in Canada.

      1. re: adamshoe
        soypower RE: adamshoe Nov 8, 2009 11:59 AM

        Thanks! I'll pick some up today!

        1. re: adamshoe
          scott123 RE: adamshoe Nov 9, 2009 09:09 AM

          Re; stravecchio...

          If aging reggiano a year and a half is good, then three years MUST be better, right? Not quite. I find the stravecchio flavorful, but, given a choice between the stravecchio and the 'regular' reggiano, I'd go with the regular stuff any day. Stravecchio is hard, salty and not creamy at all. I prefer the slight creaminess of the younger reggiano.

          I've only had it once, but Red Cow was superb. Red Cow, for me, has the intense flavor of the stravecchio, but with the soft creamy texture of the 18 month.

          And, maybe I'm too much of a reggiano purist, but I don't consider grana padano to be reggiano. I might eat it on a cheese plate, but I'd never use it in traditional reggiano dishes.

          If you do feel compelled to go with the stravecchio, try to find a chunk that's not too hard, and, most importantly, store it in a glass jar with an airtight metal lid. If you store it in plastic, within a week or two it will be harder than granite and impossible to grate. I may not cry over spilled milk, but I will shed a tear throwing away a substantial hunk of greasy, too hard to grate stravecchio (and no, I had no intention of using it for soup!)

          1. re: scott123
            Ruth Lafler RE: scott123 Nov 9, 2009 12:26 PM

            Grana padano is not parmagiano reggiano. It's a virtually identical cheese made outside the DOP area for parmagiano. But since it's not made under the same control procedures, the quality tends to be lower. It's basically a cheap knock-off.

            I love the stravecchio at Costco, both for grating and for nibbling, and you can't beat the price.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              soypower RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 9, 2009 12:39 PM

              Just the info I was looking for...Thanks for clarifying. I think I'd like the regular reggiano as opposed to the stravecchio since I do like it to be a little bit creamy-tasting. I really just want the wedge for nibbling...

              1. re: soypower
                Cathy RE: soypower Nov 9, 2009 12:52 PM

                Then put a drop or two of a good balsamic on a nibble to *really* enjoy it.

                1. re: Cathy
                  soypower RE: Cathy Nov 9, 2009 01:06 PM

                  Oooh. I'll do it!

                2. re: soypower
                  jaykayen RE: soypower Nov 9, 2009 01:13 PM

                  If you want some for nibbling, a GOOD 18 month Parm would be fine. But since good 18 month Parm is difficult to find, I usually go with a mediocre (Costco or TJ's) 3 year Parm.

                  1. re: jaykayen
                    scott123 RE: jaykayen Nov 9, 2009 02:02 PM

                    TJ's has good 18 month Parm. It usually sells out before the more expensive stravecchio and sometimes you have to dig under the stravecchio to find the 18 month stuff, but it's there more than it's not.

                    If Costco sold the stravecchio and not the 18 month, that would really be a tragedy, imo. Especially since the 18 month Parm, going by the price of the stravecchio, would be in the realm of about $9/lb.

                3. re: Ruth Lafler
                  cheesemaestro RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 9, 2009 06:50 PM

                  Grana Padano is not a knock-off of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's a cheese that was first produced in the 11th century and predates Parmigiano by several hundred years. Both are DOP cheeses. It's true that some stricter rules apply to the production of Parmigiano. Cows whose milk is used for Parmigiano must be grass-fed, while cows whose milk is turned into GP may be fed dry fodder or silage. The fat content of GP is a little lower than that of Parmigiano, because more cream is skimmed. GP can be released at 9 months, while minimum aging for Parmigiano is 12 months. Parmigiano has a more intense flavor than GP, but this doesn't translate directly to quality. There is so-so Parmigiano and excellent quality GP sold.

                4. re: scott123
                  Paulustrious RE: scott123 Nov 9, 2009 02:08 PM

                  We rarely eat PR as a cheese. To the Italian side of my family it is a form of salt. It goes on or with everything. We do not grate it but put in the food processor a pound at a time. This is not the purist's way, but it's ours. It gets stored in the freezer after 'grating'.

                  1. re: Paulustrious
                    scott123 RE: Paulustrious Nov 9, 2009 03:30 PM

                    The salt content is a good point. No matter what the age, PR is going to carry a far greater sodium payload than aged gouda, making it far less nibble-able.

                    Soypower, although I wholehearted support your quest to bring more reggiano into your life, if you like aged gouda, I think you should put in a little more effort in seeking it out. For instance, if Costco carries stravecchio, then I think the odds are probably pretty good that they'll have an aged gouda. They may not have your favorite brand, but if memory serves me correctly, most brands of aged gouda are wonderful.

                    Also, it's probably not very cost effective, but there do seem to be plenty of places that offer aged gouda by mail.

                    1. re: scott123
                      Ruth Lafler RE: scott123 Nov 9, 2009 03:54 PM

                      Trader Joe's has been carrying Old Amsterdam.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        soypower RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 9, 2009 07:08 PM

                        Thank you! I'll have to check my local TJ's out. I did try another aged gouda, Rembrandt, but didn't like it at all. Had a distinct taste of 'cow' in the finish if that makes any sense. Ergh.

                      2. re: scott123
                        cheesemaestro RE: scott123 Nov 9, 2009 07:07 PM

                        Scott123, you've made some sweeping generalizations about Parmigiano-Reggiano that I would question. First, not all PR stravecchio is hard, brittle and salty. It's important to note that there are about 390 creameries in Italy that make PR, so there is a wide range in quality. Textural problems may also be introduced when the cheese is shipped and/or stored before sale. While Costco has some excellent values for cheese, I wouldn't go there for a PR stravecchio. I would find a good cheese shop (if not local, then online) that knows how to select and care for their PR. A stravecchio in the right hands can be a wonderful experience. Second, good PR does not taste overly salty and is generally acknowledged to be one of the world's greatest cheeses for eating. It's primarily in North America that people think of it only as a cheese for grating.

                        Storage: Despite what stores do, cheese should not be wrapped tightly in plastic. When you get it home, the first thing to do is to remove the plastic, then wrap the cheese in something breathable--wax paper or parchment paper is good--and then overwrap loosely with plastic.

                5. l
                  LisaN RE: soypower Nov 9, 2009 07:30 PM

                  Do you have anywhere near you that specialized in Italian goods, like a small italian market.? You can usually pick up some fantastic cheese at that sort of store.

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