“Sottocenere” means “under ash” and describes the cheese’s battleship gray exterior, a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, fennel, anise, clove, truffle oil and ash that is rubbed onto the rind as the cheese ages.
You’d think it would make for a spicy, powerful flavor but the reality is a mild, very smooth and creamy paste that tastes almost exclusively of truffle. Truffle is a very dominating flavor and it runs the show here. It’s a strong cheese on the nose and will dominate most cheese boards. It’s probably a better cheese for accenting cooking, maybe planing it into risotto… or atop roasted Portabellos. It’s a handy way to add richness and plenty of black truffle to your dish without the $$$ of fresh truffle. If you do not like truffle, best to avoid this cheese.
Sottocenere was created by an artisan in the Vento exclusively for New York’s Forever Cheese about 20 years ago. Others are imitating the cheese though FC owns the rights to the name.
Paired very well with a bottle of ’03 Sottimano Cottá Barbaresco.
Cheese: Sottocenere al tartufo
Who: unknown, for Forever Cheese, NYC
Where: Veneto, Italy
Milk Type: cow, raw
Rind: ash &spice rubbed
Shape: ~12-15lb wheel
Tasting notes: tastes almost completely of truffle, mild