The Good: Melts well, Comparatively inexpensive, Tastes delicious, Great aroma, Not bad nutritionally
The Bad: None, truly (though I could always stand for it to be less expensive).
The Basics: BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone is flavorful, easy to work with and far more tangy than regular provolone cheeses making it great as an ingredient or on its own!
Every now and then, I find myself contemplating exactly how impressionable I actually am. For example, when I was in my early twenties, I fell in love with the television series "Sports Night" (click here for my review!) and when Casey McCall went on a rampage about how there was always Swiss cheese at the craft service table and began whining for some provolone, I found myself suddenly in the market for provolone. Go figure. Now, a decade later, I still eat provolone, but it has taken me until just recently to discover that provolone need not be a mildly sharp-tasting soft cheese.
No, while out, my wife and I discovered BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone and I was instantly intrigued. I was captivated by the concept and fortunately, BelGioioso did not disappoint with the delivery. Instead, their Extra Sharp Provolone joins a very select rank of perfect cheeses I have tried so far and is now the new standard by which I enjoy provolone cheese.
BelGioioso is a Wisconsin cheesemaker and with their Extra Sharp Provolone, they go a long way to upholding the reputation Wisconsin has for making great cheeses. I found this cheese locally for $8.49/lb. and when I can find it on sale, I am sure to stock up on it.
The Extra Sharp Provolone Cheese is one of BelGioioso's firm cheeses and it is exceptionally easy to work with. This cheese is firm enough to be able to use a cheese plane on without any trouble. It is very easy to cut with a cheese knife or cheese plane and it does not fracture like many, sharper, cheeses do. It can even be grated remarkably easy to allow it to be used in sauces or melted onto simple foods like potatoes.
The Extra Sharp Provolone may be found on-line and in stores available by the pound. It is a white cheese without any waxy coating or color variations, so far as I have found.
Ease of Preparation
This is cheese, not aging vegetables artificially, so preparing the Extra Sharp Provolone Cheese is as easy as slicing open the plastic package. One need only be attentive to the temperature surrounding this cheese as it will melt at higher temperatures. At room temperature, it may sit out and it retains its shape nicely, without sweating. At room temperature, it is very easy to slice it into chunks with a good cheese knife and it is firm enough to properly resist a cheese plane for easy slicing. This is a very manageable cheese to use when making recipes.
When used on a burger, this melted very quickly, so those who like burgers more rare will find this to be an excellent component. As well, BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone cheese melts perfectly in omelets and other egg dishes. Because of its robust flavor, it tends to overwhelm less flavorful foods like chicken.
BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone smells, but truth-be-told, that is to be expected from a provolone, much less an extra sharp one. The scent is a slightly rancid milk aroma which is not at all inviting, though it doesn't trigger the same instinctual reactions as actually sour milk. The sour scent prepares the consumer quite well for the flavor of the cheese, though.
This Extra Sharp Provolone is delicious, but it has kick. The flavor is actually strangely reminiscent to me of wine, it has the same tangy taste to it without having a fruity primary taste. In fact, this BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone goes from salty to the sour-dry kick in less than two seconds. As a result, it becomes easy to savor the richness of the flavor because it does not dwell on the more mild provolone cheese flavor before infusing itself with a somewhat smoky taste that is delightful.
When melted, the Extra Sharp Provolone loses the dryness of the aftertaste. Instead, it becomes creamy and sharp, like fluid and harsh all at once. The flavor enhances more than dominates, save for bland primary dishes like mushrooms. Topping a spiced burger, this cheese becomes a flavor enhancer and I've yet to find a meat it does not compliment well.
Like most cheeses, the BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone is intended to be be consumed in 1 oz. portions, though I found I needed about 1 1/2 oz. for my big burgers and omelets. In the recommended serving size, there are 110 calories, eighty of which are from fat. BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone Cheese has no trans fat, 9 grams total fat of which five are saturated fat. That represents 25% of the RDA of saturated fat, so one might be required to exercise some to work off dishes that are enhanced by this cheese! In addition to the fat, there is 10% of the RDA of cholesterol, 13% of the daily sodium, 20% of one's needed calcium and 6% of your daily Vitamin A in the cheese. There are no carbs and 7 grams of protein in this cheese. This actually makes it one of the better cheeses (nutritionally) that I've tried of late.
Even so, having reviewed a lot of different foods, this is not the worst food in the world by any stretch of the imagination. The ingredients are cultured milk, enzymes and salt. There are no preservatives outside the salt, which is why it must be refrigerated and sealed tightly when opened (otherwise it will dry out at the corners)!
This is a cheese, so some care must be maintained in its handling. Refrigeration is mandatory. Under those conditions, it probably lasts for months, but once open odds are the consumer will eat it within days. This is a dairy product and should not be kept at or above room temperature longer than it must.
Given that this is a very firm cheese, it does not fracture so cleanup is usually as simple as wiping the blade of whatever one is using to cut the cheese with. If it is melted and ends up on clothing, be sure to consult your fabric's care guide. On its own, BelGioioso Extra Sharp Provolone Cheese should not stain any clothing or dishware.
BelGioioso creates a brilliant variant on plain old provolone which is exceptional. Their Extra Sharp Provolone is a cheeselovers delight and one that is easy to work with and even easier to enjoy!
For other cheeses, please check out my review of Yancey's Fancy Champagne Aged Cheddar by clicking here!
For other food reviews, check out my index page by clicking here!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.