Alta Dena market. My mom used to go to the drive through and that was about as close to a dairy as I ever got. Then I married a guy who is from dairy land and I, along with about a hundred 3 year olds, milked a mechanical cow, at the Sheboygan County Fair. So, I kinda understand the process.
When we drove into the Caseificio Boscheto Vecchio Cheese Factory, I was amazed. If you can only imagine, a property essentially split in two. On one side is the cheese factory and shop, and the other the cows. The same hour the cows are milked, the process of making cheese starts. It is incredible. The factory makes one type of cheese each day, and they make a total of 14 different kinds.
On the day we arrived, they were making calciocavallo. Actually, it was just one person, the owner, making the cheese. She was continually immersing her bare hands into very hot water, lifting out the cheese and shaping it into a sphere that resembled a balloon. She then hung it in a vat of cold water to set. This process continues all day, until the desired number of items are completed. Prior to getting machinery, she would have to "knead" the cheese to the right consistency. Now she has assistance from technology....which speeds the process along a bit. But it is still hand measured and hand formed. A read artisinal operation.
View a short video of the process here...making calciocavallo
We decided to purchase a bit of cheese, so the woman who was making it, took off her apron and steered us towards the shop. She then proceeded to cut pieces of cheese for us to try.
The cheese here is amazing...like nothing you have ever tasted.
ever seen mozzerella in a large rectangular package?...this is what it is supposed to look like
the same product, shaped differently and aged in leaves of a walnut tree
with a nice showing of mold
calciocavallo after being brined and aged
I can't forget to tell you that they also sell fresh milk. The kind you have never tasted unless you grew up on a farm, or you currently own dairy cows, or you are really lucky. This milk has the cream on top. Simply to die for. Although we had gorged ourselves on cheese samples, we bought some to bring home with us. Hopefully the customs officers will appreciate my supporting the local economy.
It is my understanding that we are able to bring cheese back as long as it is aged and is in a vacuum sealed bag. Hopefully this is correct. I know that it is not possible to bring back any of the cured meats, fresh vegetables-fruits or seeds...so I would never dream of trying to get those across the border in my luggage.
After the cheese factory, our day was only still half done. Our guide on our adventures Bluone had originally planned for us to go to a local workshop where they make pottery. That was something that we were not interested in, having overdosed on italian pottery in years prior. I have lugged my fair share of beautifully designed pottery across the globe and didn't want that experience again. If I am going to fill my suitcases on this trip with heavy items, I want them to edible.
Marcello was extremely accommodating and suggested since we were close to Ravenna, that we stop there for lunch and to see the mosaics.
I had been to Ravenna before, but the mosaics are so beautiful, that I was up for seeing them again. Actually making numerous trips doesn't seem superfluous. Ravenna was quite crowded with tourists and seeing everything on a tight schedule was challenging.
We had a light lunch in an Osteria in Ravenna. It was filled with locals...and served a lovely meal. I enjoyed a steaming hot bowl of pasta fagioli and my mom had a beautiful piece of fish. Elizabeth had grilled vegetables that wasn't all that exciting.
The mosaics in Ravenna are amazing, but I suggest that you buy a book or do a little research before you go. Otherwise, you are looking at something beautiful, but you don't know what it is all about. I got a few good photos..but the church was dark and I couldn't hold steady. So my best pictures are in the book we bought, not in my camera.
We gathered outside the church to talk a bit about what we had just seen, and have a coffee. Having a coffee, seems to be a national pastime here. But the coffee is not a big mug or a 20 oz bohemith of caffeine. Its a shot of strong coffee and it has a purpose. And I like the purpose. However it was about 85 outside and I was dressed for fall. I was warm, to say the least. My sister wondered out loud if it would be possible to get an iced coffee. I balked. Ice? I rolled my eyes and inquired. And the adorable girl behind the counter made a cha-cha-cha type of movement and said...shacheratta? And I said, si...due. And so now I have a new drink. You wouldn't believe it. The coffee is well shaken in a martini shaker with ice. Just coffee, a lungo...so not a short expresso, but about 4 or 5 oz of strong coffee. The coffee gets poured through a shaker into the glass, then...you strain the foam on top. It looks and tastes like milk foam...but it isn't. Genius I tell you. Don't tell Starbucks!
Then we wandered about town for a bit and I found an absolutely charming candy truck on the edge of the main square. Imagine...a truck with all sorts of lollies and sweets...a darling candy man behind the counter, and children on bikes lined up to buy their choice. It was a real movie moment. I loved it! I bought a bombe, which was essentially a malomar and shared it with my mom.
If you can believe it, our day was not over. In the afternoon we were welcomed by Nicola in his restaurant. He is very quick in the kitchen and passed on some amazing tricks. I want to tell you all about it, and I have some videos to share as well. Look for the next blog coming soon....
teaser...a recipe for pasta with prosciutto and arugula. Delicious!