Robiola is an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family, made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s milk and sheep milk. One theory is that the cheese gets its name from the town of Robbio in the province of Pavia; another that the name comes from the word rubeole (ruddy) because of the color of the seasoned rind.
Varieties of Robiola are produced across Piedmont from the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria and into Lombardy. The taste and appearance of Robiola varies depending upon where it was produced. Robiola di Roccaverano DOP / DOC has no rind and a slightly straw-yellow coloring with a sweet, yielding taste. Robiola Lombardia has a thin, milky-white to pink rind and tends to be shaped like small rolls. The cream-colored cheese underneath its bloomy rind has a smooth lushness to its full, tangy and mildly sour flavor, likely due to the high (52%) fat content. Its rind can be cut away, but is mild with no ammonia and adds a subtle crunch to the cheese. Robiola from the Piedmont region is a fresh cheese, and is often used to top pizzas or in fondues.
The cheese has a long history that is sometimes traced back to the Celto-Ligurian farmers of the Alta Langa: the virtues of a cheese from Ceba (today Ceva) were extolled by the first-century Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, but any identification of that cheese with the Robiola of today must be speculative. However, in his Summa Lacticiniorum, the fifteenth-century dairy produce expert Pantaleone da Confienza did describe the manufacture, and praise the quality, of a cheese with this name.
Robiola is generally served as a table cheese, either alone or with oil, salt and pepper. It must be stored properly after being purchased, and will keep fresh for up to one month.