Fresh goat cheese, fresh ricotta, and cream cheese. They all serve a purpose, and each has its place. There's one cheese that I believe combines the best elements of each of these three fresh cheeses. It can sometimes be a bit elusive, but it's so worth the hunt. It's my go-to cheese this time of year: all at once light, tangy, and creamy, like no other cheese around.
Fresh robiola is like a workhorse cheese: while not exactly nuanced, and though it'd never take center stage for a wildly complex finish, it's soul-satisfying. And it plays so well with others.
The cheese has the ability to carry and unite just about any dish, whether it's atop a springy asparagus pasta with a poached egg, crumbled over a radish and herb salad, smoothed onto a garlic-y crostini with olive oil and salt, or melted into Mexican-style scrambled eggs. In the past week I've tried all four of these applications, so these proclamations are totally founded.
And eaten plain? Forget it. My favorite.
Mario Batali makes these amazing mortadella and robiola packets and grills them. I've made them before. It's a run-don't-walk kind of recipe. Stow it away.
Some of Robiola's flavor features: Bright, lactic, acidic, creamy. Balanced.
Texture-wise, it's like a fluffy, airy, whipped cream cheese. If you're a fresh cheese lover, expect a perfect storm of all the best things you can get from the style. In one little square— that's the format in which it arrives— you get the tanginess of a fresh goat cheese, the richness of the best and creamiest fresh ricotta, and the fatty unctuous quality of cream cheese.
Have I made my case? Seek it out yourself and report back.
(Image: Fattorie Osella)