Cheese plays a vital role in the Italian diet -- always has, since before the Romans, because cheese making was the only way to preserve highly nutritious milk before refrigeration. Because of this, Italy has a tremendous number of tasty cheeses and cheesy dishes.
making a cheese basket
A cheese basket is a bowl or dish made out of cheese that you can fill with pasta (with a not-too-liquid sauce), risotto, gnocchi, or even stew. They're easy to make, and make for a beautiful presentation; they're nice for a change of pace, and perfectly suited to a romantic occasion.
FRICO WITH ONIONS
Frico is a specialty of Friuli Venezia Giulia, grated Montasio cheese (similar to Parmigiano but sharper and more crumbly) heated with other ingredients (often potatoes) until it melts together and becomes crusty. In this case, Montasio works wonders with onions.
This is a Sicilian specialty that Fernanda Gosetti presents in discussing Caciocavallo in her Grande Libro dei Formaggi; since Caciocavallo and Provolone are quite similar either cheese will work in preparing the recipe.