Bel Paese is a semi-soft cow milk cheese from Italy. The name Bel Paese means "Beautiful Country", referring to the country of Italy. A book titled Bel Paese written by Antonio Stoppani inspired the name of the cheese. (Though the phrase Bel Paese has been around longer than the book.)
The cheese was invented in 1906 (or 1920, depending on your source of information) by Egidio Galbani. It was first made in Melzo, a small town near Milan. It is now made in Italy and the state of Wisconsin in the United States.
The cheese has a creamy, milky aroma, and a mild buttery flavor. Its taste has been compared to Mozzarella and to St. Paulin. The cheese is pale yellow in color with occasional small holes. The cheese may come in a wax rind or wrapped in foil or plastic. The cheese is too hard to spread easily, but too soft to slice easily.
Bel Paese's maturation time is about 6 to 8 weeks. It comes in several different sizes, from small, foil wrapped buttons to 5lb wheels.
Italian-made Bel Paese has a map of Italy on the label with a picture of geologist Antonio Stoppani. American-made Bel Paese has a map of the Americas on it.
The cheese melts easily, sometimes used as a substitute for mozzarella on pizzas and casseroles. It is also used as a snacking cheese or a dessert cheeses.
Where to buy
In the United States, you can find Bel Paese in many high-end grocery stores. In Italy, and other parts of Europe, the cheese is quite common.
You can also find Bel Paese online at amazon.com .