When you visit Calabria, you’ll instantly notice how diverse and unique it is. A region often admired for its beautiful coastline, Calabria is also home to lush mountains that produce some of the gastronomical delights that so many enjoy worldwide.
For example, a traditional Calabrian antipasto would be incomplete without a sampling of some of the delicious cheeses that can be found in this region.
You’ll find caciocavallo in many parts of Calabria but we always reach for the caciocavallo produced in the Sila mountains. It resembles your typical mozzarella or provolone, and it’s actually part of the same family which is known as “pasta filata” (a name given for the consistency and softness of the cheese during its production). Caciocavallo is made from cow’s milk and has a long oval form shape. The cheese has a rather short aging period (about 30 days) and is usually kept in cellars hanging in pairs. We typically like to eat caciocavallo on its own with some local crusty bread, but this cheese is also great in lasagna or on pizza.
We often visit Sila as part of our Small Group Heritage Tours – Find out more about the upcoming dates and itineraries here!
Looking at the name, you can probably guess where this cheese hails from…that’s right, Crotone. There are many different versions of pecorino from different regions but the pecorino made in Crotone is so good it’s been certified DOP (which is a designation given to quality products of a particular region). Pecorino is made using whole sheep’s milk and is aged for up to two years. You’ll often find this cheese served as an appetizer or grated over pasta dishes. Pecorino comes in different forms: freso, semiduro or stagionato which correspond to the length of time that they are aged.
Butirro del Pollino
The Butirro looks very much like caciocavallo and is part of the same family. This particular cheese is essentially a caciocavallo only with a little extra something. In the middle of this cheese hides a soft butter center, yes actual butter! You will typically find this cheese in the Pollino mountains in places like Morano Calabro or Civita. The process to make this cheese is long and repetitive but the end result is a delicate tasting cheese that is perfect to include on a plate of appetizers.
We love visiting our friends at a local family-owned dairy farm where they show us how they make different types of Calabrian cheese, like pecorino and ricotta! It’s a great experience for the whole family and the kids just love it! If you are interested in finding out more about including this unique experience on your trip to Calabria, contact us here!