Years ago, Ihsan began developing relationships with producers in Europe and started the Formaggio Kitchen direct import program. The goal was to develop direct connections to artisans so that they can learn our tastes and we can better understand their products. In turn, we share their stories with our customers so they can experience the exceptional products available nowhere else in the United States. Today, this program is a vibrant part of our stores and each year we discover new and delicious cheese, olive oil, vinegar, pasta, grains and more.
Our newest exclusive import epitomizes the efforts Ihsan puts into sourcing the very finest products for our Formaggio Kitchen customers: Parmigiano-Reggiano from Caseificio Agrinascente.
Ihsan’s Selection of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Twelve years ago, Ihsan met Gian Domenico Negro, an enthusiastic cheese professional who was working to preserve the traditions of Piemontese goat milk cheeses, and other cheeses made using traditional methods. He and Ihsan met several times over the years, but never found just the right cheese for Ihsan to bring to the United States.
Finally, on a trip to Parma in 2015, Ihsan met again with Gian Domenico and tasted through cheeses from small and medium-sized producers throughout Italy. While doing so, they discussed the history of the farms and the need to preserve traditional cheesemaking techniques. From all of the cheeses tasted, one stood out: the 27 month Parmigiano-Reggiano from the cooperative dairy of Agrinascente. Gian Domenico took Ihsan to the dairy, and the rest is history.
Cooperative Casearia Agrinascente, located 15 minutes Northwest of Parma in the town of Fidenza, was founded 35 years ago when nine like-minded farms decided to come together. Their goal was to preserve the traditions of Parmigiano-Reggiano production while constantly tweaking their techniques to improve their cheese with each and every batch. Today, they work with six dairies all of whom allow their Friesian cows to graze on pasture during the warmer months and feed hay during the winter months. Because of their proximity to the city of Parma, Agrinascente took adopted the brand Parma2064 to indicate both the specific region where their cheese is made (Parma) as well as their registered production code (2064) in the consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano producers.
The caseificio houses 32 glowing copper caldaia each of which produces two forms a day. Considering it takes roughly 600 liters of milk to make a single wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, they go through more than 40,000 liters of milk in a single day! Wheels are aged for 12 months before being tested, wheel by wheel, to determine if they are worthy of being labeled as Parmigiano-Reggiano. After approval, they are aged for a minimum of 6 more months, most to be sold around 24 months but some aged up to 40 months. We’ve found that with this particular dairy, our sweet spot is right around 25 to 28 months.
The Taste of Parmigiano-Reggiano
After his first taste, Ihsan knew this was a Parmigiano-Reggiano of superior quality. On the palate, fruity notes are accentuated by just the right amount of salt and nuttiness reminiscent of roasted pecans, which carries through to the finish. What is truly special about this Parmigiano-Reggiano is the balance of flavors. The flavors are in perfect harmony with one another and collectively linger on your palate long after your first taste.
Cut, Grated, Slivered or Chunked
Available now on our website (and in our shops) Parmigiano Reggiano Agrinascente is perfect cut for your cheese plate, grated on your pasta, chunked and drizzled with balsamic or slivered over your salad.
As Seen in Wine Enthusiast!
Want to put Ihsan’s tips into use? Shop the products he mentioned in the Wine Enthusiast Guide to the King of Cheeses in our online store or in our shops today!