The first imported cheese profiled on The Geography of Cheese hails from Italy. It is powerfully boozy and sweet, with deep blue-green rivulets of mold through its creamy interior. This cheese is interesting even without its compelling backstory.
The cheese is named Basajo. Its history goes back to the early 1900’s when war swept across Europe into the Veneto region of Italy. Farmers were expected to feed their families and soldiers while also facing food shortages. To keep from starving, resourceful farmers hid cheeses in the barrels of fermenting grape must. The outcome was not only more food for them and their families, but a new style of cheese.
"The strong, sharp flavors are mellowed by the sweetness drawn from the wine baths."
The Carpenedo family of La Casearia resurrected this practice near Venice to make a successful business of "drunken cheeses". One of many is Basajo, a raw sheep’s milk blue aged for 6 months, then washed with a sweet Passito white wine. The strong, sharp flavors of the blue cheese are mellowed by the sweetness drawn from the wine baths. The wheel of cheese is then pressed with a crown of muscat raisins that are both ascetically pleasing and a fruity accompaniment. Whatever way it’s eaten, there is little doubt that Basajo is made for the most ardent blue cheese lovers.
Check out the profile of Basajo here.