Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Brand Rated One of the All-Time Greats

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Brand Rated One of the All-Time Greats

Article excerpt

LOCATELLI PECORINO PEPATO

Aroma **

Taste ***

Price **

I don't usually write about cheeses not available locally, but Locatelli Pecorino Pepato deserves to be an exception.

I was tickled to come across it the last time I was at Viviano's Italian Grocery on The Hill in St. Louis.

Locatelli is one of the few manufacturers of Pecorino Romano cheese in Italy that still makes a product high-quality enough that Steven Jenkins, in his Cheese Primer, recommends it as one of only four really great brands still made in the Rome area. According to parent company Aurricchio, the Locatelli family has been making sheep's cheeses for more than 200 years.

Pepato, a hard pecorino (sheep's milk) cheese with the inclusion of whole peppercorns, is a similar cheese, but it is usually made on the islands of Sicily or Sardinia.

Locatelli Pepato combines these characteristics, being made by Locatelli on Sardinia. Locatelli ages their pecorino cheeses for at least eight months to acquire the proper hard, granular texture and sharp flavor. Pepato can be used any way regular Pecorino Romano is used, but expect an explosive flavor not only of salty sheep's milk but also of piquant black pepper.

The peppercorns are mixed into the cheese at the time the curds are molded. This is in contrast to most flavored cheeses that are either coated on the exterior with the flavoring substance or ground, melted, or otherwise processed to incorporate it after aging. The peppercorns stain the cheese around them a dark straw- brown color and soften. Their perfume permeates the entire cheese, blending with the barnyardy essence of an aged sheep cheese in a way that equals more than the sum of the parts.

If you don't know someone heading to St. Louis soon, Locatelli Pepato is easily available from Viviano's and other sources online. Being a hard cheese, it ships well, and it is not expensive, generally priced at $13 or less a pound - a terrific price for one of Italy's most traditional cheeses, from one of the best cheesemakers in the country. …

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