A booth at the Taste of Italy event a couple of weeks ago reminded of that dinner, the conclusion, at least. Cantarelli, a cheese producer in the province of Reggia Emilia in operation since 1876, had samples of their Parmigiano-Reggiano aged 24, 30 and 36 months, which I greedily devoured. The representative explained the differences among the ages and how 36 months might be the peak of aged Parmigiano as the flavors considerably break down by 48 months in his opinion.
In addition to the quality of the cheeses I sampled, I was impressed with the packaging. The company sells these three ages along with a few others including Parmigiano made from the milk of the famed red cows, Vacche Rosse, and another from the Bruna Alpina breed, in opaque 3-ply aluminum packets that helps the cheese retain its proper flavor after opening and guarantee a shelf life of one year. It certainly seems much better than the shrink-wrapped plastic used by Costco, Spec’s and Murray’s Cheeses, the places where I usually pick up Parmigiano and its brethren. Cantarelli, being an Italian company, also made its packets much more attractive than the typical domestic packaging.
I don’t believe that Cantarelli is available in Texas, or even in the US, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for it if you are a fan of Italian food and might enjoy an occasional deeply savory coda to dinner.