Type of Milk:
Italy, Veneto region
The name of this cheese, Sottocenere, essentially means "under ash". The gray rind is formed by a layer of ash that covers the cheese as it ages. Mixed with the ash are spices such as coriander, nutmeg and cloves although these spices hardly flavor the cheese. It is the addition of truffle oil and truffle pieces that create the irresistible flavor and aroma. The rind is edible, although sometimes a little gritty, and is less flavorful than the cheese.
Truffle! Not only are tiny pieces of truffle found throughout this semi-soft cheese, but the rind is also rubbed with truffle oil.
Uses and Pairings:
I prefer not to pair much of anything with this cheese - the rich flavor of truffles shines on its own. A glass of sparkling wine or Italian Barbera will wash it down well.
A little bit of Sottocenere melted into a dish can be transformative - try melting it over polenta, risotto, or scrambled eggs. Squares of grilled cheese sandwich with Sottocenere could be a fun appetizer at a party (or a completely decadent lunch).