Taste test Parmesan
This week, we decided to test Parmesan cheese, a staple in most Irish refrigerators. Parmigiano Reggiano is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product that can only be produced in certain parts of Italy. In all cases, we opted for the most basic, pre-packaged version stocked by each shop, rather than a piece cut to order or a premium or organic version. As Parmesan ages, the cheese develops a stronger flavour and a more crystalline, grainy texture. Aged Parmesan is more expensive. All of the cheeses we tested are suitable for grating over pasta or in salads, but our testers felt that only one was of sufficient quality to eat on its own.
SuperValu Signature Tastes Parmigiano Reggiano, 150g, €3.49, 9/10
For the price, this was by far the best of the cheeses that we tested. It's aged for 24 months and displays more of the true Parmesan characteristics than the others, with a fruity/nutty taste. Excellent value and flavour for everyday use, and good enough to eat on its own, perhaps with a little aged balsamic vinegar.
Tesco, Parmigiano Reggiano, 200g, €3.49, 7/10
Good assertive flavour, with a nice balance between fruit and nuttiness and displaying some of the grainy textural characteristics of the cheese, despite not being aged. Well-priced.
Avoca Parmigiano Reggiano, 150g, €3.95, 5/10
Reasonable flavour, but lacking texture and consistency.
M&S, Cook With M&S Parmesan, 220g, €6.80, 4/10
Our testers felt that this cheese lacked flavour and had nothing in the way of the characteristic graininess expected of good Parmesan. Pricey too.
Dunnes Margi Parmigiano Reggiano, 150g, €3.49, 3/10
Bland in terms of taste and disappointingly rubbery in texture. Adequate for grating over pasta, but not one to eat on its own.