The quality of this most famous Italian cheese is fiercely protected by the Consorzio del Formaggio. It can only be made in designated areas (Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena and Mantua) and only using milk from cows that have been fed fresh grass or hay. The taste should be fresh and sweet, fruity and not too salty. Though it is a very hardcheese, it should never be dry or dusty.
Each wheel of cheese is tested to see if it worthy of the title 'Parmigiano Reggiano'. Anything called Parmesan is definitely not in the same class! Look out for the 'Export' branding too, this means your cheese is of the highest quality.
What with Parmigiano Reggiano is delicious on its own, but it is of course absolutely brilliant for cooking adding a lovely tang to anything from pasta to salads, breads, pastry, biscuits and soups. The strong flavour goes very well with crisp whites or full bodied reds.