Grana Padano PDO 9-16 months

Grana Padano PDO 9-16 months and Mantuan mostarda with Abate Fetel and other cultivars

Pear mostarda is the most classic of the Mantuan mostarda recipes; today it is produced in a few workshops that jealously preserve the ancient recipes. The pears grown, both for consumption and for making mostarda, are Abate Fetel, Conference, the common pear, Kaiser, Max Red Bartlett, William, Carmen and Santa Maria and the very rare Passacrassana, inherited from the House of Gonzaga. Pear mostarda, depending on the cultivar used, has a light caramel or almost amber colour and is slightly crunchy. It smells like cooked pear and crunchy almond, and its mild intensity and persistence make it easy to pair with Grana Padano PDO cheese aged between 9 and 16 months.

In this pairing, we appreciated the relative delicacy of the mostarda, which complements the 9-16 month aged Grana Padano, which features sweet notes of butter, cooked milk and cream. The mild acidity and sapidity of the cheese counterbalances the slight spiciness and sweetness of the mustard. Structurally, Abate Fetel mostarda is crisp, but not leathery, and has a certain graininess that can be ‘felt’ in the mouth, resulting in a pleasant structural contrast with this still relatively young type of Grana Padano. To conclude, we can say that elegance and delicacy are the distinctive elements of this combination.

Curious facts:

The cultivation of pears, especially in the Viadanese and Oltrepò Mantovano areas, boasts an extraordinarily ancient tradition. By 1475, it was a widespread and important crop, although it was grown in monastery gardens and in the orchards of noble courts, where hybridisation was also practised to obtain fruit with increasingly valuable characteristics.
The earliest records mentioning the Mantuan pear date back to none other than Pliny the Elder (the most esteemed naturalist until the 16th century) and Columella (Roman agronomist). At that time, however, and also during the Middle Ages, it was customary to cook pears before consumption and to add mustard or spicy agresto before serving them at the table. After the Unification of Italy and in the early post-war period, with the consequent reorganisation of production aimed at enhancing the existing businesses, pear cultivation underwent a period of strong development, thanks in part to the technological innovations taking place in the storage and transport sectors.


Grana Padano PDO 9-16 months and Cremonese mixed fruit mostarda

This type of mostarda is prepared with whole candied fruit, sucrose and fructose.
It can be prepared with different types of fruit, often left whole but also chopped, which can vary according to seasonality and taste. It is consumed by cutting it into small pieces, while refraining from sniffing it because of the strong presence of mustard, which could temporarily make the eyes water. It should never be tasted on its own, but always accompanied by a part of a dish to tone down its spiciness. Its texture is slightly tough during chewing, also due to the different size of the fruit used and the special candying process. In cooking, it pairs well with Grana Padano PDO cheese aged for from 9 to 16 months.

The suggested pairing contrasts intensity and structure: in this case the mostarda presents a variable but clearly perceptible structure. It has a very high intensity, which is why we suggest combining the Grana Padano shaving with a small piece of mustard and trying it with the different fruits, each of which will have its own unique texture. With regard to spiciness/sweetness, here too an extensive variability is palpable: cherries, pears, figs, peaches and citrons will be sweeter and less spicy, while citrus fruits, and typically mandarins, will have a ‘liveliness’ and intensity that will make you ‘pleasantly lose your senses’; this is due to the fact that the essential oils contained in citrus fruits enhance and multiply the spiciness inherent in mustard oil.
In this combination, it is essential to find the right proportion between the 9-16 month Grana Padano shaving, characterised by sweet, lactic notes of melted butter and cooked milk, and the mostarda, which is intense and ‘strong’.