Some cheeses are named after the milk with which they are made, Tomme de Brebis for example is made with sheep’s milk. Others are named for the place where they are made, Fourme d’Ambert – the cheese from Ambert. Then there are those cheeses named for their other notable qualities, like Puzzone – which literally translates to ‘big stink’.
To be fair, this cheese’s full name is Puzzone di Moena, Moena being the small valley village in which it’s made. Puzzone is a classic smear-ripened mountain cheese, a cousin of Raclette and Tilsit – it’s this process of regularly smearing the rind with a salt-water solution during maturation that creates the trademark pungent, orange rind and rich, savoury flavour.
As most cheese-lovers will understand, there’s a kind of proportional relationship between pungency and deliciousness – if you get past those reeking notes of sweaty socks and funky fermented mushrooms, you are rewarded with a mind-blowingly tasty cheese. Puzzone is no exception and its complex flavour has highlights of hazelnuts, green herbs, melted butter, a subtle spice and cured meats – all of which intensify as the cheese matures.
As part of my trip along the Dolomites Cheese Route, I spent a day getting to know Puzzone di Moena in more depth at the only dairy that produces it located in the impossibly picturesque Fiemme valley. A big cheesy thanks to Davide from the Caseificio Sociale Predazzo e Moena for sharing this cheese’s story, and to Agritur Maso Lena for providing a tasting location and farmhouse lunch that kept me going for days!