So here is some news: When in Sicily you cannot avoid Pecorino, and naturally all the vendors and cheese shops sell different kinds of it –young and old, natural or refined with all manners of spices.
Pecorino comes in such a variety of types and tasting profiles that despite the common name of Pecorino [Italian Pecora=sheep in English], one individual does not necessarily have to do with one another.
The aroma, appearance, structure of paste and taste of product depends on the breed of sheep, the feed as well as the keeping, surrounding and season of the year.
And to be honest – it can also depend on the sheer day of milking and the mood of the individual animal.
In Italy you will find as many as 9 DPO (denominazione d´origine protetta=PDO protected designation of origin) Pecorini and an outstanding high number of 60 PAT (Prodotti agroalimentari tradizionali italiani=traditional Italian food products).
Clearly enough there is also an uncountable number of different Pecorini without a label of protection and many of them are little stars of their own –just like our table companion by Alcantara Formaggi who are situated on the slopes of Etna – Sicily´s impressive and still active volcano.
*Nerello di Sicilia* is a dry salted, raw sheep´s milk cheese, that during its 4month maturation is repeatedly rubbed with a mix of ground black pepper and olive oil. This method of rubbing cheeses during maturation not only protects them against climate conditions and crawling invaders but also holds partial responsibility for appearance and – more importantly – flavor profiles.
Nerello´s paste is of a compact structure with a bright straw-yellow coloring, and the aromas pamper us with an island breeze of a buttery, lactic sheep. On the bite he offers an elastic and soft chunkyness that nicely dissolves on your tongue and the flavors carry a rich, spiced and peppery sheep that gets more intense the closer you get to the rind.
Gustav, who says he will under no circumstances miss out on our next Sicily trip, rates *Nerello di Sicilia* a solid 12/10 and says he considers to get a new look and scent by rubbing himself with pepper and olive oil and blend in the crowd.
See our Where to shop in… for insight tips of where to get some fine Sicilian finds in Palermo