Four Cheese pasta - why Fontina?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by realtorgourmand, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. realtorgourmand

    realtorgourmand

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    Ok - my first post!

    While explaining to a guest that all my four cheese recipes (even "il cucchiaio d'argento) call for Fontina as the only "mandatory" cheese to include in "Maccheroni Ai Quattro Formaggi", I was stumped when he asked me "WHY?"

    I like to use something blue (prefer Gorgonzola), something white and soft,(mozzarella, riccotta, cottage cheese) and something harder with a kick (asiago, pecorino, even cheddar!). I've tried without Fontina, and it just doesn't work as well!

    Anyone know WHY?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Fontina, like mozarella is a great melting cheese. Unlike mozarella, it has a wider temperature range where it's percieved as creamy, the epitome of melted cheese. Also should help bind and smooth things out with the other cheeses.
     
  3. gunnar

    gunnar

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    I would guess it's due to the creaminess of the fontina. It provides a great cream base and flavor that allows the other cheeses to stand out. You wouldn't notice it till it was gone though. Like that shot of tabasco in clam chowder, you don't notice it's flavor in the chowder, but you know when it's missing.
     
  4. siduri

    siduri

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    I think the flavor of real fontina is very distinctive (not generally available probably in the US, and even here is harder to find than a more commercial variety.  it has a sort of stinky taste like gorgonzola. 

    When i was a kid, in the Boston area, what they called fontina was a hard sharp cheese.  Not like real fontina at all. 
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I believe what they sold in Boston was a Swedish fontina, Siduri. I remember it the same way, from when I lived there.

    Wasn't until much later that I discovered with a real fontina was like; a totally different cheese, as you say.

    Val D'Astan fontina should be readily available throughout most of the U.S., though. I can even buy it locally, and if I can find it, trust me, it's not that rare.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  6. realtorgourmand

    realtorgourmand

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    Here in Canada, at least in all of the major centres, we have a large Italian poulation, and Fontina (the real one - from Italy) is readily available. Thanks for the best answer to my question (WHY) Phatch!

    Siduri - if your Fontina smells/tastes like Gorgonzola it has not been kept at the right temperature, and is going off!
     
  7. siduri

    siduri

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    Actyally, that's what i thought when i bought it once.  The people in the store were trying to convince me that it was supposed to taste that way, but they exchanged it for me in the end.  It wasn't really just like gorgonzola but it was definitely more of a stinky cheese than a non-stinky one.  Here they sell a version that is not the swiss fontina ky mentions, but is yellowish and softish, but is what they call a "sweet" cheese, meaning not too sharp and not too stinky.  It's an italian commercial fontina. Really italian, but not from val d'aosta.   

    But the real stuff, which i ate in val d'aosta and is sold only in specialty shops in Rome, the d.o.c. fontina, does smell.  Not really strongly, but it smells.