Feta cheese is very popular practically everywhere. Although very likable I find it a bit too salty, and occasionally even difficult to digest.
There is a very good alternative cheese: Quartirolo Lombardo is just like Feta cheese, just less salty.
Quartirolo Lombardo is a typical table cheese that goes well with salads, cold dishes, fruits, walnuts and honey.
It goes well with many local wines including Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto delle Langhe, Nebbiolo d’Alba, and Pinot Bianco del Collio.
How do they differ?
The Lombard Quartirolo Dop has the shape of a quadrangular parallelepiped of about three kilos. It has a thin and pinkish rind. The dough is slightly lumpy, as it matures it becomes more compact and soft.
The Feta Dop has a compact cube shape, with small irregular holes, without a crust and a uniform white color.
The fundamental difference between the two cheeses lies in the milk.
The Quartirolo comes from only cow’s milk, produced by Lombard farms.
Feta is made from sheep’s milk and rennet. It often contains a percentage of goat’s milk, but only up to 30%. The whole of Greece is to be considered a production area.
SALT AND FATS
Feta is saltier and fatter. It contains 2.20 grams of salt per 100 pounds of fat.
Quartirolo is instead around 30%.
Quartirolo makes it possible to diversify the cheese, offering both a fresh and ready-to-eat product (5 days) and a more intense, 30-day flavor, characterized by a pinkish rind that differentiates it from its younger brother.
Feta has no rind and “ripe” in brine, with a salt concentration of no more than 3%. The final maturation takes place at a temperature of 2-4 ° C and a relative humidity of at least 85%, for a period of at least 2 months.
When it is ready for the market, the Quartirolo Lombardo is “dressed” with a personalized wrapping that bears the mark of the Protected Designation of Origin.
Feta is sold in slices and vacuum packed with some of its brine. Here too the European Union stamp is mandatory.
THE DIFFERENCES AT THE TABLE AND THE PALATE
When fresh, the two cheeses are similar in taste. However, the Feta changes little with the passage of time, while the Quartirolo acquires intensity and flavor with the seasoning. The texture of the dough changes from crumbly to creamy, but above all it acquires aromatic notes of good intensity.
The fresh Quartirolo when it is mature acquires body and loses its acidity and can also be appreciated alone. On the palate it acquires herbaceous, hay and a hazelnut base.
Feta is slightly more acidic, salty, and has a spicy note that Quartirolo does not have. The high quality one should have an aroma of sheep’s milk, with hints of butter and yogurt. It has a spicy finish reminiscent of pepper, ginger, with a hint of sweetness.
As Quartirolo is sold fresh and aged, Feta is traditionally found in the “soft” and “firm” varieties.
FETA AND QUARTIROLO: HOW TO TASTE THEM BETTER?
As well as in salads it is excellent breaded and fried, grilled or as a filling for phillo pasta rolls. A tasty pairing? The watermelon flanked by Quartirolo, which becomes a rich salad by adding red onion slices and mint chopped by hand to complete the dish (I skipped the onion in my preparation!)
The Quartirolo is appreciated seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of pepper. It also goes well with nuts, apples, grapes and honey. The fresh product can be used as a complement to salads and cold dishes, while the seasoned is an excellent ingredient for risottos, macaroni and omelettes.