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Asiago

Pronunciation: [ah-SYAH-goh]

Hailing from Italy, Asiago has a rich flavor that can be pleasantly sharp in aged versions. It takes its name from L'Altopiano di Asiago ("the Asiago Plateau"), which is located in the foothills of Italy's Veneto region. It's made from whole or partially skimmed cow's milk, which may be pasteurized or raw. Depending on the age of the cheese, the rind ranges from elastic and straw-colored to hard and brownish gray, and the interior from semisoft and ivory-colored to hard and deep gold. All Asiago has small to medium eyes. Other countries, including the United States, produce Asiago. American versions come in three styles: fresh (a soft whole-milk cheese aged for 2 to 4 months); medium (made with slightly skimmed milk and aged for at least 6 months); and aged (more heavily skimmed milk, ripened a minimum of 1 year). Young Asiago is used as a table cheese; aged over a year, it becomes hard and suitable for grating. See also cheese.