One of the first cheeses I enjoyed while I was living in Italy was caciocavallo. I'd never seen the gourd shaped cheese before, and the shape and its ubiquity drew me to try it. It has a milky yet mildly piquant flavor, almost what you would imagine mozzarella would taste like if it were a hard cheese and aged. It's approachable as well as delicious and unique.
I moved to Milan when I was 19 to study design. Before then, although the cheese I had been exposed to was very good (you can't beat VT cheddar) it was pretty limited. Brie seemed pretentious and as a teen I had no reason or occasion to ever buy or eat real cheese other than cheddar. A whole new world opened up to me in the streets and shops of Italy, where even in the chain supermarkets a half of the cheese department is dominated by local cheeses made down the road, and the cheese department itself took up a quarter of the supermarket. Suddenly seemingly limitless varieties of this food that I had always loved (as a toddler I used to hang from the refrigerator door begging for it with my limited vocabulary of "keesh!") were available to me, for the same price or less as plain 'ole land-o-lakes! I enjoyed it thoroughly and never ceased to be delighted that eating a block of cheese was perfectly acceptable at dinner.
Now as I begin to hone my skills (very limited as of yet, but coming along) as a cheesemaker, I get to indulge these memories and try to recreate cheeses I remember with love (and much salivating), but haven't eaten since I moved back several years ago. Caciocavallo is one of these and a cheese we hope to make and offer our community at Little Seed Farm once we're up and running! The video above shows the process of stretching and molding the caciocavallo into its traditional gourd shape. I watched quite a few videos of Italian cheesemaking families showing how it's done before trying it so although I'm an amatuer, the technique is based in tradition :) Enjoy!
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