Hard cheese is also known as "firm cheese" or "grating cheese". Usually, these are aged cheeses that are matured for more than three months, sometimes for even more than a couple of years and just like cognac or a good wine they develop their flavor with time.
The main features of the hard cheese are the taste and the flavor that are complex and require some understanding. The more mature is the cheese, the more character it has and all of them are regarded for their pungent flavor. The other feature of the hard cheese is the hard structure that allows rather to crack or split it into smaller parts with a specially formed knife or to grate it than to cut it. This hardness is obtained by a long maturing time when more than 60% of the moisture is vaporized from the cheese, but due to the uniform structure of the curd it doesn't shrivel. The most famous among the hard cheeses is of course "The King of Cheeses" — the Parmigiano Reggiano. Among other famous we may call Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano from Italy, though Cheddar, aged Gouda and a French Mimolette are also very close by the flavor and are also considered as good alternatives. Most of the hard cheeses are DOP, AOC or PDO protected and are produced in certain regions under strict regulation.
The hard cheese is mostly used for grating to add the flavor to salads, sauces, pasta, pizza or other cooked dishes but basically not cooked itself. Usually, it is not consumed alone but still can be served as a part of a cheese plate as an appetizer.