Fontina cheese (Fontina d'aosta) is a cow's milk semi-soft cheese which comes only from Val d'Aosta, Italy. The cheese is aged and pungent, irregular in shape, covered with a dark brown rind. In the U.S. the cheese is typically younger, straw-yellow with a buttery, nutty taste. The texture is semi-soft, rich and creamy with a few very small holes. Look for the orange-brown rind that indicates a true Fontina. It makes a good table cheese and is mild and smooth when melted. A traditional use for this cheese is to shred and melt over fresh gnocchi. Danish Fontina is pale yellow and semi-soft with a mild slightly sweet flavor. A derivative of its Italian namesake and a great table cheese that goes well with a light wine Fontina is also a good sandwich cheese.
Check for good imported Fontina d'aosta and Danish Fontina in any good cheese shop. Whole Foods Market typically stocks this cheese. You can also purchase a good imported Fontina online at Amazon.com: Fontina Val d'Aosta D.O.P.
If you can't find Fontina you can substitute equal amounts of any of these alternative cheeses; most of which are easy to find:
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