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July 18, 2013

Introduction

 

After having published 5 issues in 2012, the Asiago Newsletter by the Asiago P.D.O. Cheese Consortium is back for the first time this year. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information, tips, stories, and recipes with the authentic Asiago cheese. The newsletter will be distributed only when there is content to be shared. We appreciate your interest and welcome any comments or suggestions you might have. 

Asiago Cheese at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show

 

Thousands of people mingled at the Javits Convention Center in New York City for the record-breaking 59th Summer Fancy Food Show, which has been the largest so far according to a tweet by  the organizers. With a presence in four different booths, the authentic Asiago Cheese PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) was well represented. Visitors had the opportunity to savor the Asiago cheese in its different forms such as the fresh one and various examples of  the seasoned one. The samples were a hit as everyone loved the unique flavor of Asiago!

 

According to the exhibitors, buyers and consumers are able to notice the huge difference between the authentic Asiago Cheese PDO and the domestic cheeses that bear the same name. This is because Asiago producers put a lot of effort in making sure the cheese they export to the U.S. and Canada is of the highest quality. Indeed, quality and unique flavor make the authentic Asiago cheese inimitable. The PDO label and  that of the Asiago PDO Consortium guarantee the authenticity of the product.

Meet our Members: Toniolo Casearia 

 

With this issue we are introducing the last of Asiago Consortium's members exporting to the United States and Canada.

 

Toniolo is a dairy company with over 50 years of experience in producing Asiago and other traditional PDO cheeses from the Veneto region in North-Eastern Italy. The dairy was founded in 1960 in Borso Del Grappa - a little village on the slopes of Monte Grappa, near Venice - by Battista "Tito" Toniolo. However, the cheese-making tradition of the Toniolo family goes back in time to many generations ago.

 

  Toniolo Asiago 1Today Toniolo is managed by Tito's son Mauro and his sister Giovanna, who took the dairy to the global market providing cheeses all around the world. In fact, the diary is increasingly export-oriented. In their storehouses in Borso del Grappa, Schio, and Asiago they have about 120,000 whole cheeses aging to perfection so that cheese-lovers can fully enjoy them all around the world!

 

Toniolo's goal is to create cheeses that are not just good, but that have "character", a strong identity, and that tell the history of the territory. In spite of becoming one of Italy's largest producers, Toniolo didn't lose their hand-made elements: the secrets and traditions that are handed down from generations are still at the core of their work. This allows them to produce some very special traditional cheeses that are extremely rare.

 

  Toniolo Cheese 2

All cheeses are produced through absolutely artisanal criteria and following the traditional process. Toniolo uses only quality milk of the Pedemontana Veneta, the mountain region of Veneto, and absolutely natural production elements, without using preservatives and anti-molds. Nonetheless, Toniolo also pays attention to innovation and market needs. Recently they obtained the ISO 9002 and the Vision 2000 certifications.

 

Toniolo started exporting to the United States in 2012, creating a presence both on the East and the West coasts. Some of the stores where their Asiago cheese can be found are Ceriello Fine Foods, Di Bruno Bros, and Agata & Valentina

 

Asked about the feedback from the U.S. market, Mauro Toniolo says: "There is a great attention on our cheese because of its distinctiveness. Consumers look for products related to a specific territory. Our strategy is to leverage the brand Toniolo, so that consumers can have more guarantees about what they buy."

Is Asiago Being Abused?

 

Looking at recipes, fast food and coffee chains, and supermarkets it seems that Asiago is becoming very popular in the United States. But, is this unique cheese from the Asiago plateau in North-Eastern Italy that is becoming so popular? Sure, exports are growing together with the demand for the product. However, it appears that the word "Asiago" is becoming detached from its original territory and the wonderful cheese that is produced there.

 

In May we found two blog posts that approach this issue from two different perspectives: Jeremy Parzen writes about the Americanization and reification of Asiago, while Fadderly simply says that he's sick of hearing the word Asiago. It's a fact that too many brands seem to thrown in the word just to make look their product fancier. Fadderly says that "It's a total and complete "show-off" word." We would say that it risks becoming just that. This definitely doesn't help the Asiago Cheese brand, which is defined by its unique taste and quality. While Fadderly argues that the average American consumer wouldn't be able to distinguish one cheese from another, our experience shows the opposite: consumers do taste the difference. However, we can't do enough tastings to fight the abuse of the word Asiago by other products.

 

Another consequence of the abuse of the word "Asiago" is the disconnection between its original meaning and what often it's being used for in the United States, which is what Jeremy Parzen writes about in his blog post.

 

If a brand uses the word Asiago to make a product sound of higher quality when it's not, it lowers the value of what Asiago stands for. This doesn't mean that Asiago Cheese should be an exclusive product. Last year in Italy the Asiago PDO Cheese Consortium partnered with McDonald's in creating "Il Veneto" sandwich. However, in that case the goal was exactly that of developing a quality product that could be offered in a fast food chain. Who means quality, should also offer quality. 

Recipe - Salad with Asparagus, Fresh Asiago PDO and Speck Alto Adige PGI

 

Difficulty: easy

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Source: Asiago Cheese website

 

Ingredients for two people

  • � cup fresh Asiago PDO
  • � cup Speck Alto Adige PGI
  • � cup asparagus
  • � cup seasonal green lettuce
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

 

Cook the asparagus in salted water (16 oz water, � tbs sea salt, � tbs sugar) and then cut into small � inch pieces. Cut the fresh Asiago PDO into � inch cubes and the Speck Alto Adige PGI into � inch strips. Cook the Speck in a frying pan until it is crisp. Add it to the fresh Asiago PDO, asparagus and salad in a bowl. Mix, adding extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a few drops of balsamic vinegar if desired.

Consorzio Tutela Formaggio Asiago
Corso Fogazzaro, 18 - 36100 Vicenza - Italia
Tel +39 0444 321 758 
info@formaggioasiago.it - http://www.asiagocheese.it/en/
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