The best cheese shops in Florence
The best sellers of cheese in Florence and around
Known as the “drunkards’ biscuit” in Garibaldi’s times and paired with bread in the literature of the early 1900s, cheese has been now elevated to the status of gourmet food. The evolutionary process is the same as for wine: from an ordinary beverage to a symbol of refined taste and lifestyle. However, in cheese’s case, the pursuit of excellence is a bit more complicated.
Florence does not have a dairy farming tradition comparable to that of wine but, in the Mugello area, an excellent ‘Blu’ cheese is produced by Il Palagiaccio farm, in the ancient Reggia degli Ubaldini, in Scarperia, recently opened to the public (visits upon reservation for groups of at least ten, Località Senni 43, ph. 055-8494418). The rest is done by experts who hand-select the cheese and whose first commandment is freshness, a prerequisite to some cheese varieties such as mozzarella. Directly from Paestum, via courier, the buffalo-milk Rivabianca mozzarella arrives to Convivium Firenze (Viale Europa 4/6).
Two kilograms of cheese stretched and twisted to form a plait, with a firm, elastic, rubbery-like texture, quite different from industrial mozzarella. The “boccone del prete” (the priest’s bite) is the tip, the part that the cheese-maker kneads by hand much longer until the mozzarella is formed into a shape. Mozzarella, even the smoked version, can be found at Mo Mò (Via Maggio 69r), a sophisticated delicatessen shop offering also provola, ricotta and caciocavallo cheese.
The must-have in any gourmet’s fridge is Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in both the soft (18 month-aged) and ripe (36-month aged) versions. Divine Golosità Toscane (Viale Giuliani 132, ph. 055-454417) sells the Vacche Rosse variety, the finest production of Parmesan cheese, having a sweeter and more elegant taste.
As for goat’s milk cheese, in about a month, in mid-April, the Santa Margherita farm from Siena will provide Florentine delis with its cheese produced only seven months a year using 100% natural methods. It can be found at Bastianelli in Via Romana or Baroni at the San Lorenzo market.
Worth mentioning is also the Olandese Volante shop, in Via San Gallo, that offers excellent Gouda, the typical Dutch cheese, with a sweet flavor recalling toffee candy, ideal with beer and champagne.