Monday, September 9, 2013

The Art of Making Cheese

A SPOONFUL OF PLENTINESS
Ricotta Cheese Part I
I can go into detail by describing how good this cheese is, that it's one of a kind, like you've never tried in your life, but how many people would have to say the same about a cheese found in a delicatessen, savored at a dinner with friends, or perhaps bought somewhere up in the Alps or simply a cheese they make themselves. Although I'm not an expert on how cheese is made, I know for a fact that whether it is from sheep, cow or goat, taste and quality will depend mainly on where and how animals grow and graze.  This is what really counts to get flavor, no matter what.
The Art of Making Cheese
The Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making Cheese
The place where this cheese is from, speaks for itself.  A place of green mountains and blue skies, natural source waters, open, clean, uncontaminated air. It's breathtaking, a real life postcard, a place to regenerate and forget the daily pounding thoughts we sometimes find ourselves caught up in.  Here you loosen up and live relaxed surrounded by nature ... a lake, trees, wild fruits, horses, cows, sheep.  You meet century old people with stories to tell, traditions and, believe it or not, there's a young lady that weaves, using a loom over a hundred years ago. This place is called Campotosto, near l'Aquila, Italy. The place where my father, his father and grandfather were born.
The Art of Making Cheese
6:30 am the alarm goes off. I jump out of bed to meet Medardo, the man that has the art in making cheese. As I approach his farm, the dogs scent me from far and the barking alerts him that I've arrived.  There he is standing in front of the door, precise and on the dot with a few friends keeping him company and his wife Maria.  He has everything ready and points out with pride, that the method he uses to make cheese is the same his grandfather and great grandfather used in the past, same equipment and utensils. Everything is laid out in order and with no reluctance he explains the making of cheese step by step. He uses a dried sheep intestine rennet to coagulate the milk.  Slowly the milk curdles as he stirs with a seasoned wooden stick, without the use of a thermometer he checks the right consistency of coagulation with the only instrument he relies on, his finger.  Finally the solids begin to form and the cheese makes its way.  Medardo squeezes the first forming solids and with milk oozing between his fingers, he offers me a small taste.  The chewy texture is warm and flavorsome, an on the spot privilege, something I've never tasted before and something he has eaten his whole life.  The forming of the cheese starts, a wire thread divides the portions which are then pressed into molds.  The first bunch of cheese is processed. Medardo now heats the remaining milk a second time, this time to make ricotta, which literally means cooked again,  Ri - Cotta.  Scoops of white, fluffy, warm clouds of cheese, ricotta cheese are raised and placed in molds.  Maria, passes around tastes of ricotta and this...Oh my!... this is where, in just a spoonful of plentiness, food becomes therapy and meets your soul.The bond is indissoluble.
The Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making CheeseThe Art of Making Cheese
Ricotta Cheese Part I


10 comments:

  1. Wonderful!! Thanks for the amazing pictures and for sharing with us the beauty of our tradition!
    A.

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    1. Thank you A. It's the small things that make tradition and that make a difference. Have a good day!

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  2. It's not hard to imagine your inspiration while shooting these pics. They are simply beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Stef...it was indeed an inspiring moment. Did you notice the picture with the sheep that looked at me when I said "cheeeese"??!! :)

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    2. Of course I did! So cute :)

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  3. Wonderful! A real art indeed. I really enjoyed your pictures, thanks.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. always want to see cheese making in action. lovely clicks. thanks for sharing

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  5. Lovely photo and what a delightful insights in the cheese making experience :)

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