How about we start with the name?! ‘Pecora’ is Italian for sheep and ‘Pecorino’ translates as ‘of sheep’. So – to put it simply, Pecorino means sheep’s cheese. It is the most widely made cheese in Italy and most Italian fridges will have some in it at all times. Pecorino is made in all Italian regions, but some create such a celebrated product that they receive PDO classification
The top regions are ‘Romana’, ‘Sardo’ and ‘Toscana’. The most celebrated of all come from the Pienza region of Tuscany where the sheep graze in the Vale d’Orcia.
For the next month (or for as long as we can keep the cheese coming) we will be celebrating a unique producer from Pienza – Fattoria Buca Nuova.
In 1966, Cugusi Pietrino, his wife Mulas and their 6 children moved from Sardinia to Montelpuciano in the Tuscan hills to start a new pastoral life. They found an old farmhouse called La Buca Nuova and after two very hard years were able to start selling cheese.
Two of their sons, Emilio and Graziano, took over the production in 1982 and slowly grew the business while preserving traditions. In 1997 the fattoria moved to larger premises in Pienza but the original shop on Statale 146 towards Chianciano is still going strong!
Please come and try 5 of their extraordinary cheeses!
Pecorino Bianco Fresco £21.50/kg – this is a young cheese which can be used in salads, as an antipasto or in simple recipes. It will have matured for less than three months and retains that delicious fresh sheep’s milk flavour. Aged for one month.
Pecorino Rosso Semi-Stagionato £25.25/kg a semi-matured cheese aged from 45-60 days. This cheese is red because it is soaked in tomato sauce and olive oil – a rustic countryside method. It helps to maintain moisture in the cheese and gives a wonderful acidity. This cheese is perfect for your charcuterie board and pairs well with white wine and youthful reds.
Pecorino Nero Morchiato £27.50/kg – each region matures its cheeses in different ways, based on the climate and terroir. This is a traditional Tuscan method using the pomace which remains from the olive oil production. Once the cheeses are formed they are coated in the dark, acidic paste and it creates an ideal crust to mature the cheese. This is the perfect cheese for making Cacio e Pepe! Firm, salty and delicious! Aged for 3-6 months.
Pecorino Foglianoce Riserva £40/kg – A quirky Tuscan farmer technique, the cheese is wrapped in walnut leaves and aged in terracotta vessels. As the cheese ‘breathes’ it absorbs flavours from the leaves. This cheese is aged for a minimum of 6 months and is a great after dinner cheeseboard guest.
Pecorino di Fossa £44.50 – This is a marriage of Tuscan traditions and those of Emilia Romagna. The cheese is made in Pienza then heads off to Sogliano al Rubicone where it is stuffed into the cracks in the tuff. The area was once home to a volcanic eruption and they use the pits and fissures to age the cheese. The cheese is buried August 1st and is retrieved November 1st. This lack of oxygen is a very unique technique and makes for a very unique cheese – perfect for an aged red or a dry dessert wine.