The Cheese: Pecorino Romano
If you know a little Italian this cheese’s name tells you two important things: what it’s made from and where it comes from.
Pecora is Italian for sheep so any Pecorino cheese is one made from sheep’s milk. And in Italy, food is all about region that it comes from. You’ll see Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Toscano, Pecorino Sardo and Pecorino Siciliano. That second word in their names tell you where the cheese was made.
Most Pecorino Romano comes from island of Sardinia, but it can also be given the official Pecorino Romano name if it’s made in Lazio and the Tuscan Province of Grosseto. It’s also a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese, meaning the name can only be used by cheese made in these regions and following strict production procedures.
A note about sheep’s milk cheeses. Sheep milk has almost twice the fat as goat milk and some breeds of cow. This produces a richer-tasting cheese, with more heft to each bite.
Pecorino Romano can be young or aged. We sell an aged version so it’s drier, denser and has more assertive flavors than a young version. At best, this cheese becomes crystalline and nutty, with flavors ranging from gamey to smokey to sweet.
The Salumi: Calabrese Pancetta
This spicy salumi is made with the same cut of pork used to produce bacon—that is, the “pancia” or belly of the pig. Like most salumi in Italy, pancetta has been made for thousands of years, following methods and traditions that have changed remarkably little over time.
The difference between bacon and pancetta is that bacon is not smoked. Instead, it’s salted and air cured. There are no sugars added, but most producers add spices. Think pepper (sometimes hot pepper like this one), fennel seeds, coriander, rosemary and juniper berries are used.