As the name suggests, hard cheese is firm. Often savoury, it can be divided into two categories: hard (such as Parmesan), and semi-hard (such as Gouda). Production involves separating and draining most of the whey before pressing the curd, which is then either brined to create a hard rind or waxed. Finally, the cheese is aged for between 2 and 36 months, and in some cases even longer. Aging determines the intensity of the flavour. A well-aged cheese will be more flavourful, less creamy and grainier in texture.
Dense, complex and often with strong notes of hazelnut and sautéed butter, hard cheeses bring depth and savour wherever they go, often favoured for their moreish umami taste, like that of a rich broth or slowly cooked stew. Gently opening with a mild tang, flavours linger on the palate, calmly followed by a sharp and aromatic finish. Still maintaining a sense of smoothness, the texture is granular and firm, often forming natural salt crystals with age, and in turn producing a crumbly body, perfect for running through a cheese grater.
Most hard cheeses develop a natural and tough rind, amassing an abundance of flavour over time. Too hard to eat on their own, the rinds add decadence and strata when mixed into soups, sauces and stews.
The family of hard cheeses has members aged both in history and maturation. Their rounded and tangy nuances work wonders in dishes and salads, offering a wholesome experience when enjoyed on their own.
Crowned the king of cheeses, this Italian pure-blood is sharp, intense and full-bodied in taste. The texture is firm when young, becoming granular and crystallised as it ages. Aged for at least 12 months, the secret to its iconic flavour lies in its maturation.
Pair with walnuts, zesty pear and champagne or sparkling wine.
This Italian classic, made using fresh milk from sheep, has been produced in the same way for over two millennia. Slightly milder than Parmigiano-Reggiano, notes of spice and caramelised butter stretch its palate in union, offering a savoury and full-bodied profile.
Pair with fresh figs, honey and white wine.
Residing in the heartland of La Mancha, Manchego cheese is as much a native as it is a product of the region. It is nutty, with light touches of sweet fruit and spice. The use of sheep’s milk allows for a richer, creamier consistency that grows granular and flaky as the seasons pass.
Pair with honey, figs and roasted walnuts.
The texture, taste and appearance of Grana Padano is often mistaken for that of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Even so, this mighty Italian cheese certainly holds its own against its close relative. Slightly milder, the body is less granular, only requiring 9 months of maturation.
Pair with fresh apples, figs and honey.