The one produced in Sorrento Coast is a typical hard cheese with a rather strong flavour, according to the length of its seasoning, ranging from six to eighteen months. Its compact soft cream-coloured texture has rare melting splittings. Able to assure the cultivation of tasty, genuine and high quality vegetal products, Sorrento Coast is excellent also in the wine- gastronomical field thanks to the working of typical products among which there is the so-called Provolone del Monaco. It is an exquisite cheese, with a unique flavour which is made according to very old processing techniques.Also for this reason, the provolone del Monaco of Sorrento Coast is object of some legends such as the one concerning the meaning of its name.Despite its aspect, in fact, this typical product of the dairy field of Sorrento Coast and Lattari Mountains was not invented by monks. The idea to give it this name, instead, is probably due to its resemblance to the shape of the knapsacks used by traders to bring this cheese, from Sorrento Coast, to Naples and other towns, and commonly brought by monks on their shoulders. However, this is not the only hypothesis. According to others, in fact, the name of the provolone del Monaco was attributed to this cheese by watching the shepherds, coming from the Lattari mountains, who brought it. For this reason, the shepherds, to shelter from the humidity of the sea and of the night, covered themselves with a big cloak reminding of the monks’ habit.Besides its legendary aspects, anyway, the provolone del Monaco is considered as inimitable because of its organoleptic characteristics.It is a cheese with variable sizes which, because of its processing technology which is still today completely craftsmanlike, can weigh from five to ten kilograms. Typical is its shape, similar to a pear, a flask or a cylinder, which makes it different from the classical caciocavallo for its lack of a head on top. It has a hard crust, almost half a millimetre thick, and of a golden colour.It is a typical hard cheese with a rather strong flavour, according to the length of its seasoning, ranging from six to eighteen months. Its compact soft cream-coloured texture has rare melting splittings. In fact, at its first cut in tasting it, as a consequence of its passing from the natural cold of the place of seasoning to the room temperature, its typical tear takes its origin, produced by the condensation of the fat present in the milky texture. It is produced from January to March.As it happens for almost all traditional cheeses, also the provolone del Monaco of Sorrento Coast and Lattari Mountains is tied to a breed of cows: the one from Agerola. The quality of the milk of this cow, a synthesis of three genetic heritages (among which the jersey) is regarded as exceptional. The production of this caciocavallo foresees, for the curdling of milk (which occurs at 38 degrees centigrade), the use of kid’s rennet. After thirty or forty minutes, as the curdling occurs, various breakings of the curd take place with the so-called sassa, a rudimental wooden pin, by reducing it to the sizes of a grain of corn. Then the texture is cooked and broken, it is left draining and ripening, then it is stretched. The process of stretching is difficult: in some phases it requires the intervention of two people who draw and wind the curd as if it were a rope. When the texture is resistant enough, one gives it its shape. Then it is immersed in salt for a number of days equivalent to the kilos it weighs, so its seasoning begins; this occurs in well-ventilated and humid places such as calcareous grottos or cellars with a ground of earth and lapillis.
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