Friday, June 16, 2006

Read all about it

Just returned from the IDDBA (International Dairy Deli Bakery Association) conference in Orlando and am brimming with new product news. This conference shows off a lot of new dairy products - including the newest artisan products made by larger companies who can afford to exhibit at this huge tradeshow. One of the best new products I got to try was Crescenza (krih-SHEHN-zuh), made by Belgioioso in Denmark, Wis.

Belgioioso is a medium-sized Wisconsin dairy processor, but is turning out some truly artisan cheeses. Crescenza is no exception - it's a fresh, rindless cheese made from cow's milk with a mild, milky and somewhat yeasty flavor.

Crescenza has a soft, creamy consistency that makes it spreadable and easy to melt. Company president Errico Auricchio describes it as "very soft and buttery" and says it can be eaten as a dessert cheese, in Focaccia or as a pizza topping.

Errico Auricchio brings a strong history to Belgioioso - over a century ago, his great-grandfather started a cheese company in Italy. Today, the orginial Auricchio label is still probably the most recognized label in Italian cheeses.

In 1979, Errico moved his family to America to start his own company - Belgioioso Cheese Inc - with the goal of crafting great Italian cheeses in the United States. I'm pretty sure he's succeeded. Belgioioso now operates five cheese factories in Wisconsin, with each factory specializing in a specific type of cheese. Other good varieties to try include American Grana, Italico and Auribella.