When I attended the Fancy Food Show this summer, I encountered a wonderful surprise:Provolone Mandarone. I have never considered myself a huge fan of Provolone, so when my friend Shelli encouraged me to take a nibble, I was less than enthused. Sensing this, Shelli explained to me that this Provolone was special-aged for a minimum of 30 months from the Lombardy region of Italy. Hmmm…my curiosity was peaked!
At first glance this cheese resembles an extremely large and awkward squash with a deep caramel colored rind. From this rind, I was presented with a nugget of golden amber. After popping it in my mouth, the crumbly Provolone Mandarone just creamed- up and melted, and so did I. I was elevated to another world.
The sharp and tangy blend of salt and caramel twirled around my tongue. It was heavenly. There was the fresh, pleasing subtlety of anise and the sweetness of tangerine. What a delicious surprise!
I highly recommend this cheese as an alternate for Parmigiano Reggiano. Pair it with a glass of Sette Ponti Oreno 2008 Super Tuscan and drizzle the cheese lightly with a balsamic glaze. After the tasting, I asked Shelli If I could have the entire 5 1/2 lb claw for myself. She said I would have to share with everyone else at the Fancy Food show. Oh well. You can’t blame a turophile for trying. I knew I had to order it for the stores (and for myself). In select Bottle King stores now.