What a ring a ding zing! Since we started bringing first quality (1st grade) Grana Padano cheese in 8 years ago, we've had very happy clients and friends to say the least.
As you will probably well know, Grana comes direct from the Approved Italian manufacturer in 35 kilo wheels. These wheels are massive! (pictured below) It's a compulsory 2 man lift if you are transporting these wheels around the warehouse. Luckily for forklifts and industrial cheese cutters, we (the wholesaler) are able to cut the wheels into 16 wedges of around 2kg each. But even 2kg wedges are to big for a household, these being more suited to our professional clients.
above: A whole wheel of 1st Grade Grana Padano (aprox.35 kg) being cleaned before cutting. You get an idea of the size by the hand in comparison.
My wife and I often have friends over, and more often than not, we'll prepare a meal that will have Grana on it, in it or around it. Most of our friends have tried Grana from the supermarket before, but once they get a taste of freshly grated or shaved first quality Grana Padana from a freshly cut wheel, they are literally gob smacked. They are in awe to see the massive wedge of cheese emerge from the fridge. So, as you do...cut them off a piece for their larder. Traditionally, Grana is cracked or split apart using a special drop shape blade to maintain it's grainy texture (see below), but we use special cheese cutters to minimize wastage due to the high cost of importing.
above: A wedge that has been cracked open...this image gives you an idea of the texture.
But with all good things, our friends wanted more, so I started just cutting a 2kg into quarters among 4 friends, then into halves, now, they are taking the full 2kg wedge, and pay for it of course. One friend loves it so much, she has sliced Grana Padano off the wedge with Otway free range gypsy nut ham sangas, ok... a tad excessive, but whatever your heart desires in my view. A 2kg wedge of Grana Padana may take a while for a household to get through, but once you replace the ol' mouldy block of supermarket cheddar with Grana, it's gone in no time. This leads me to storing...and contrary to what some experts say about storing Grana... I tell people just to keep the bag it came in, making sure you squeeze as much air out of it as possible before going back into the fridge (see below).
above: My home wedge...I call this the 'Ryno', taking shaves from the top, and grate from the pointy end of the wedge.
above: My home wedge wrapped back up in the bag it came in, ready to go back into the fridge.
So, how can you tell that the Grana Padano you buy is first quality? Well, a few things to look out for...
The structure should be a uniform pale straw yellow
Should be no visible pink tinges through the cheese
Any holes should be just visible
No visible cracks through the structure of the cheese
The rind should be branded with the Grana Padano diamond marks.
The rind should be a darker golden colour and slightly oily
A sure way to know you are buying 1st grade Grana Padano is to purchase a wedge from kirkfood online.
While your there, feel free to browse our online catalogue.
above: a 2kg wedge of 1st grade Grana Padano ready for sale.
You'll be amazed how versatile a freshly cut wedge of Grana in the fridge can be. It adds that zing needed in a lot of dishes. One of my quick and easy favourites is to grate into an omellete mix before cooking...you'll certainly notice the difference.
A few facts about Grana Padano...
- Grana Padano is one of the most popular Denominazione di Origine Controllata cheeses of Italy
- Grana Padano is the best selling cheese in the world
- The term 'Grana' means 'grain' refering to the texture.
- The term 'Padano' refers to the valley Pianura Padana.
- Grana Padano was originally created by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle who used ripened cheese as a way of preserving surplus milk.
- A wheel of Grana Padano is cylindrical, with slightly convex sides and weighs between 30 and 40 kg
- Kirkfood cut whole wheels of 1st quality Grana Padano once landing in Australia into 16 wedges, each wedge being around 2kg
- The production and quality are now overseen by the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Grana Padano.
- Kirkfood import only 1st grade 16-18 month Grana Padano
Not a trade client? you can buy this quality of Parmesan and Reggiano online at iDELI