Piave cheese is made in the province of Belluno, in the most northern part of Veneto. It takes its name from the legendary river whose meandering course arrives at the bottom of the valley by crossing the entire length of the province of Belluno. Its source is at Peralba Mountain, between the communes of Santo Stefano di Cadore et Sappada, at the heart of the Bellunese Dolomites. Coming from this area, Piave is the most important Bellunese cheese that derives from local cheese making tradition. It has an intense and full-bodied flavor that becomes more marked with maturing wise maintaining the unique subtlety that makes the cheese unique.
The milk used to make the cheese comes exclusively from the province of Belluno and 80% of it is made from cows typical of the production area: the Italian brown, the Frisian Italian and the red piebald Italian. Herding follows traditional criteria that is characterized by the link between the cow and the land: they are often allowed to roam free, in the mountains in the summer months. They are fed on the cheapest and most abundant food available in the territory, or else they are allowed to graze in the fields on high quality grains and cereals. The finished product is cylindrical in shape, with a weight of some 6 kg. The name ‘Piave’ is marked vertically on the base to prove its origin. The rind, soft and white in the Fresh form, increases in depth with age – becoming hard and ocre-coloured as it transforms to Old Gold Selection or Old Reserve. As a fresh cheese the dough is compact, very light and without holes – it then acquires an ever increasing straw colour as it matures and as the dough becomes more fragile.
• Fresh Piave PDO – 20/60 days
• Medium Piave PDO – 61 – 180 days
• Old Piave PDO – more than 180 days
• Old Piave Gold Selection PDO – more than 12 years
• Old Reserve Piave PDO – more than 18 months
To conserve Piave during it’s various phases of maturation, the best place is a cool, sufficiently aerated cellar. It should be wrapped in a cotton or linen cloth. The optimum conservation temperature is 10°C with 70% humidity. As an alternative, particularly for younger cheeses like the Fresh Piave, it’s advised to also conserve in the fridge, possibly keeping the product in the original packaging.
It’s also important to remember to take the cheese out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to allow it to breath – and to reach the optimum serving temperature.
Piave bites with nuts
Ingredients for 4 people – medium difficulty
• 300 g of Piave Fresco (Fresh Piave)
• 100 g of Old Piave, grated
• 300 g of old bread, cut into squares
• 100 g of pine nuts
• 100 g of butter
• 3 eggs
• 1 glass of milk
• 3 cups of flour (type 00)
• 1 onion
• I cup of chives
• 2 spoons of tomato sauce
• Salt, as desired
Cut the bread and the Piave into squares; add the onion fried in oil, the eggs, flour, salt and milk. Mix the ingredients with your hands, creating small shapes the size of a large nut. Boil the shapes in salt water for about 10 minutes on a gentle flame.
Drain, sprinkle with Piave Vecchio, and drizzle the bites with melted butter, the pine nuts and the tomato sauce.