Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

Cheese Whisperer: La Bottega di Artigiano

New to the Co-op’s Specialty Cheese Island: La Bottega di BelGioioso’s Artigiano! This new line of natural, aged cheese is inspired by classical flavors and artisan techniques. Nutty, slightly sweet and intensely flavorful, the cheeses come from BelGioiso, one of Wisconsin’s premier producers.

Enjoy Artigano Classico in thin slices, cubes or as a grating and finishing cheese, similar to parmesan. Add it to salads, soups, roasted vegetables, pasta or rice.

Edible Efforts of a Master Cheesemaker

Gianni Toffolon, BelGioioso’s original Master Cheesemaker is always tinkering with combinations of flavors and textures. He has been a cheesemaker for over 40 years and knows how to make great cheeses.

Gianni tinkered around with cultures and experimented with aging techniques to come up with a new, exciting cheese. The result of his efforts is the Artigiano, meaning “Artisan” in Italian. The cheese is mixed in small batches and cured using special methods to achieve a delicate crystalline texture. La Bottega di BelGioioso’s Artigiano is now available in three varieties:


Artigiano Classico

The original, unflavored version of this cheese is carefully made to Gianni’s exacting standards. It takes 6 to 8 months of aging to achieve Classico’s unique flavor and aroma. It’s a mixed culture cheese, with a complex taste and crystalline texture that pairs well with a variety of foods and beverages.

Serve Classico with fresh fruit, pickled vegetables and rustic bread. Pair it with a gluten free hard cider, such as local, semi-sweet Chelan Gold Hard Cider ($9.99 per 1 liter) or a glass of dry 2Towns Ciderhouse Bright Cider ($11.99 per 6-pk cans).


Artigiano Vino Rosso (“Red Wine”)


When you think about cheese pairings, you probably think about wine. BelGioioso partnered with a boutique winery to custom blend two of their award winning wines, Zinfandel and Merlot, for our Artigiano Vino Rosso (“Red Wine”). Once Artigiano Classico has aged to Gianni’s satisfaction, cheesemakers marinate it in a fruity blend of wines until the flavors are perfectly balanced. Artigiano Vino Rosso is handcrafted in small batches to flavors three sides of the cheese.

Serve Artigiano Vino Rosso with roasted nuts, olives, CURED smoked meats, and figs. Pair it with your favorite red wine, such as a bold Chianti or ruby-fruited Malbec.


Artigiano Aged Balsamic and Cipolline Onion

Many know Italy as a country proud of it’s culinary traditions. Artigiano Aged Balsamic and Cipolline Onion is flavored with authentic Italian aged balsamic vinegar from Modena and sweet cipolline onions from Calabria. Both regions in Italy are famous for these ingredients. Upon first bite, you taste the savory, slightly sweet flavor of Classico cheese, followed by a pleasant tang of vinegar and then sweet cipolline onion finish. The flavors are harmonious with none overpowering another.

Serve Artigiano Aged Balsamic and Cipolline Onion atop cheese is seasonal green salads or grilled cheese sandwiches. Pair it with: a hearty Scotch ale, such as Boundary Bay’s Scotch Ale ($4.99 per 22oz bottle/$9.49 per 6-pk cans) or dry, robust porter like award-winning Founder’s Brewing Porter ($9.99 per 6-pk bottles).

Spring Sunshine Salad

Recipe adapated from Heidi Swanson &

Ingredients for Salad:
  • 1/4 cup BelGioioso Artigiano Classico, shaved (vegetable peeler works well)
  • 1 medium orange, sliced and sectioned
  • 6 -8 handfuls mixed salad greens, washed and dried
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 3 sliced scallions or green onions
  • 1cup toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, etc)

For the Dressing:

  • 1cup freshly grated Artigiano Classico cheese
  • 2 oranges, zest and juice
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • tablespoons chopped shallots (or onion)
  • 1teaspoon lemon juice
  • tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Make the dressing: In a bowl (or shake in a jar) combine the grated cheese, orange zest and juice, and shallots. Whisk in the red wine vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the salad: Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add orange, nuts, and onions. Toss well with the Citrus Parmesan Dressing. Add the avocado and toss the salad gently, so as not to mush the avocado. Sprinkle with cheese shavings. If you have leftover dressing, save it to use as a marinade, or toss with pasta.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.