Piedmont, which lies in the Alpine foothills of Italy’s northwest region, has long been renowned for its production of food and wine.
Here, in an area known as the Langhe in the province of Cuneo, the Cora family produce a range of Robiola cheeses made primarily from goat’s or sheep’s milk. Depending on seasonal availability, sometimes cow's milk is blended with the other milks.
The cheesemaking business was established in 2000 by Gianni and Paola Cora. Although the couple had previous careers, they are both passionately interested in preserving traditional local foods and after Gianni spent some time training with local cheesemakers, decided to launch their own business. Production of cheese at Cora is now very much a family affair as Gianni and Paola have been joined by their daughter Lorena and son Francesco in the tiny dairy.
Cheeses are made in small batches between February and November each year. To form the curd, starter cultures are added to the milk which is then left alone for 36 hours. During this time, the cultures work very slowly to form a fragile curd, known as a lactic acid set. At the end of the process, a very small amount of rennet is added to give the curd a little strength and, once fully formed, it is ladled incredibly gently into the molds to preserve as much integrity and moisture as possible in the finished cheese.
Made from a blend of sheep's and cow's milk, Ciabot is very similar to a classic two milk Robiola or the French Perail. Cheeses weigh about 7oz, and are encased in a delicate rind that is ivory in color.
The interior paste is smooth, yielding and runny in texture when ripe. Flavors are mild and very accessible with sweet, rich, earthy notes associated with sheep's milk, balanced by the buttery qualities of the cow's milk.