Cheese Obsession: Moliterno Gigante

This illustrious gentleman is named Rick. He’s near and dear to our hearts at the Fairway cheese counter because he brings us something our customers love almost as much as we do: Moliterno Gigante.

This dense, crumbly, marmoreal-looking tractor-trailer wheel comes to us straight from Sardinia. The wheels are huge and imposing. Check out the imprint–that comes from having been born inside handmade esparto grass baskets.

Watching Peter gracefully cut open this gigantic wheel is my idea of a good time. So is tasting the earthy, sweet, nutty, and perfectly salty cheese. 

Moliterno has that rich over-the-topness characteristic of sheep’s milk cheese: sheep’s milk contains a very high percentage of butterfat, compared with goat and cow’s milk. The wheels of Moliterno get rubbed down with olive oil as they age to keep the flavor and moisture locked in. It’s a big cheese, a veritable explosion of flavor. 

Even bigger and badder is the black truffle-studded version. Unlike most truffled cheeses, the wheels age for about 6 months before being infused with pure black truffle paste, so that the cheese develops loads of character and depth. And the truffle!

I opened it up to photograph and–that truffle smell. Hallelujah! I got goosebumps.

Both aged cheeses and truffles are umami-bombs. Umami is that savory, deep flavor dimension–glutamic acid if you want to get technical. It’s the explanation for truffle-studded moliterno being so colossal in flavor and personality.

It’s pricey–but a little goes a long way. And we’re talking truffles, the embodiment of luxury. Moliterno’s superpower is turning anything opulent. Grate it over scrambled eggs and breakfast becomes chichi. Elevate a simple pasta dish to something dinner-party-worthy and show-offable by shaving this fine cheese on top.

Moliterno is a cheese with a devoted following. When I worked in our Upper East Side cheese counter, customers got all googly-eyed and tongue-tied upon tasting their first moliterno. I get it. I get that way too.

 

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