Baked Goat’s Cheese – Robiola Di Capra
Buongustaio – literally translated as gourmet or foodie. That's me! I've recently felt a bit of a yearning for Italy. No wonder, what with the weather outside being all wet and disgusting. I had to think of my wonderful holiday in Tuscany, the amazing food, the incredible olive oil and the way Italians revere their food and wine. In Italy, eating is celebrated, and the quality and provenance of the produce is deemed to be extremely important.
Back when I lived with my parents, my Mom often served the most exquisite Italian prosciutto and the best soft cheeses I've ever had, particularly on weekends after she had gone to the market and popped by Buongustaio, the popular Italian gourmet deli. I really missed that when I was at university in Vienna. But now I've discovered that since 2011, there has been a Buongustaio in Vienna's first district. I immediately made my way over there and binge-bought delicious foods - excellent organic olive oil and a very fine organic Aceto Balsamico di Modena, a type of balsamic vinegar with an officially protected designation of origin. It stems from Modena, a university town in northern Italy. I was invited down there to participate in an olive oil tasting once - and picked the spiciest vinegar they had as my favourite, the organic Primo Olio Extra Vergine die Olivia, cold pressed by Frantoi Cutrera in Sicily.
Like wine, you can recognise quality olive oil by taste. Great oil has an optimal ratio of fruity, bitter and spicy aromas. It is recommended that when buying olive oil, you should check for provenance and scan the label for things like "native" or "extra virgin".
The nice salesperson at Buongustaio pointed out to me that the scratchy throat resulting from the acerbity in the oil is actually a sign of quality. It comes from the oil's free fatty acids, the polyphenols. Over time, the sharpness decreases.
I also really like olive oil with lemon flavour, particularly now that it's spring. Goes very well with prosciutto.
At the Buongustaio, you can find a high quality range of Italian foods and select wines and spirits. It's an adorable little store that quenches anyone's culinary hankering for Italy. In my home county, in Dornbirn more specifically, this gourmet store has been around since 1997 and I really like that the products they sell are exclusively sourced from between 80 and 90 regional family enterprises located all over Italy.
The word „Buongustaio“, gourmet, foodie - it describes those small stores and their philosophy perfectly. In Italy, good food is one of the things that make you happy. It's is a huge part of the country's culture, society and economy. The appreciation Italian people have for their produce echoes in their food - you can see this at Buongustaio as well. Their wares are grown and cared for on little farms and are created after traditional recipes. Things are dried in the sun, seasoned with fresh herbs. Pasta is mostly made, cut and shaped by mammas and nonnas. This old way of doing things needs people who don't work in industrial mass production but rather in accordance with nature, avoiding chemical additives and anything that could taint the natural taste; Buongustaio finds this kind of mindset in small producers applying long-established, traditional methods in their work.
When you cook Italian, you always kind of capture the culture as well; the sun and the colours of the land. Caprese, for example, the Italian national dish, consists of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, the colours red, white and green representing the landscape as well as the Italian flag.
And by the way: you absolutely have to try Buongustaio's Mozzarella di Bufala - it's to die for.
Italy's philosophy of enjoying food and valuing the products' freshness and quality definitely rings true with me. It's important to take your time when you go shopping. Typical Italian housewives avoid ready-made or frozen foods, for example, only the finest ingredients guarantee pure enjoyment.
But now, here's a delicious salad that would work very well as a starter or even a light spring or summer dinner. I can imagine this with raspberries, too. The goat's cheese - Robiola Roccaverano DOP Stagionato, Latte Crudo Caprino - is the only Italian goat's cheese with a protected designation of origin, the DOP (Denominazione d'Origine Protetta). The region of Piemont alone has as many types of cheese as all of France. Robiola di Roccaverano DOP is made from raw milk from regional goat breeds only. This goat's cheese is a yummy, creamy indulgence.
Baked Goat's Cheese - Robiola Di Capra
- 2 TBSP pine nuts
- 2 tart apples
- 4 slices (1cm) of robiola goat's cheese
- a little rocket or garden lettuce
- a little butter for the baking tin
For the Sauce:
- 1 TBSP butter
- ½ TBSP high quality Aceto Balsamico (Farmacia Oro)
- 1 TBSP acacia honey
- Preheat the oven to 225°C (upper/lower) and maybe switch to the griller at the end.
- Fry the pine nuts in a dry pan while stirring continuously. Cut the apples into four (1cm thick) slices and core them.
- Brush an ovenproof form with butter and place the apple slices in them. Put the robiola slices in the tin, alternating with the apples. Bake them for 20 minutes in the preheated oven until the cheese is golden.
- In the meantime, wash the rocket and garden lettuce and arrange on plates. Top with the cheese-covered apple slices and garnish with the roasted pine nuts.
- Warm up the honey, butter and Aceto Balsamico in a pan. Drizzle over the cheese and serve.