Friday, January 23, 2009

Eros Buratti and the art of preservation of milk

Upon exit from the shop and checking the receipt, R and i commented that the bill, after all, was less than what we expected, given the amount and quality of the purchases.
"Over here, it's well-spent!" whispered a girl with Indian or Pakistani features just moments before, with the knowing tone of one who probably

La Casera cheese shelf
is a regular customer of La Casera herself. She was responding to my witty jest that emphasized worry for an expensive bill, humor that i thought appropriate to the friendly climate of the shop.

Besides cheese and cured meats, the shop also has a little section for salt. While Eros, the storekeeper, passionately described to us the experience of tasting salt from various origins, i was thinking to the contradiction between the criteria of ecologic shopping and the purchase of a can of salt coming from Himalaya, rather than South Africa. But, come on! When will it ever happen again to be able to compare salt from Ibiza with the Hawaiian one? And so we added those two containers to our shopping bag.
I am quite ignorant in this matter. Up until now, to me salt was just salt. NaCl. It's not that sodium chloride could ever have different organoleptic peculiarities if it comes from South American mines instead of Sicilian saltworks. Eros told me that the differences in taste are not given by the chemical substance itself, but by its impurities that every kind of salt has.

Could be...
Anyway i was already fully satisfied by the more interesting subject of cheese. "Taste this last, please" goes Eros, handing me a teaspoon with some fresh goat cheese.
Delicious! so much that i asked him to add some of it to the basket. In the mean time R was involved by a woman (Eros' mother?) in buying an exquisite slice of Matera bread, displayed on a counter at the end of the shop.
Fortunately these last two purchases were made at the end, after a list of items that were already carefully prepared before, selecting from the products listed on La Casera's website. It's really difficult, in fact, to choose real-time among hundreds of available cheeses (mainly from Piedmont, but also from other Italian regions, and some foreign ones).

The fresh goat cheese, together with a slice of pecorino siciliano ai pistacchi di Bronte (a token gift for the large purchase) were the worthy completion of our shopping list that included three cow milk cheeses (Toma del Maccagn, Raschera semistagionata, Tella Alto Adige), one sheep (Canestrato di Castel del Monte) and one goat (Ubriaco al Traminer). Any choice we inquired about was followed by a qualified comment from Eros.
As a choice criterium we took into account the difficulty of being able to find those cheeses (a more famous pecorino di Pienza, for example, is easy to find also in the regular shopping centers).

"You're in the right place" answered Eros, amused, showing up from the back-shop when, to break the ice, right in front of the display shelves, i said "Goodmorning, by chance do you have cheese over here?"
A moment before, in front of the shop window, i dwelt upon the thought of the many surprising forms developed in the centuries of the need to preserve the milk nutritive properties.

Indeed we were really in the right place.

In the picture of the cheese plate, starting from the yellow one on the top, clockwise: Bagoss (cow milk, Lombardy), Ubriaco al Traminer (goat, Veneto), Canestrato di Castel del Monte - presidio SlowFood (sheep, Abruzzo), Pecorino siciliano DOP ai pistacchi di Bronte (sheep, Sicily), Toma del Maccagn - presidio SlowFood (cow, Piedmont), goat fresh cheese (Piedmont), Graukase (cow, Alto Adige), Vezzena - presidio SlowFood (cow, Trentino), Raschera semistagionata DOP (cow, Piedmont). In the center, Tella Alto Adige (cow).
Bagoss was bought in a grocery shop, Graukase and Vezzena at the Christmas markets in Merano (Trentino Alto Adige), the others are all from Eros' shop.

La Casera
Piazza Ranzoni, 19
28921 Verbania Intra


tychecat said...

Some years ago my wife and I drove around England, a country not known for it's food.
We found an exception to this was to many local cheeses offered in rural areas. Almost all were delicious.

I wonder how the EU's pasteurization requirements have changed the taste and availability of Italy's abundant and famous offerings?

I do know that the imported cheese we get here in the States isn't as tasty as it was years ago.

dario said...

Uhm... a part from a couple of types of Cheddar cheese i am not very familiar with English cheese. I always found kind of odd that they have that huge amount of sheep but apparently they don't produce sheep milk cheeses.

Some EU restrictions actually changed the production (or atleast the official distribution) of some cheeses.
Anyway the EU requirements do not impose pasteurization. Most of italian cheeses exported allover EU are infact obtained with row (unpasteurized) milk.

I don't know the rules for exporting cheese to the US. What i know is that in the state of Hawaii i found, apart from the famous Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, only mozzarella (which doesn't look anything like the fresh mozzarella we have in Italy) and gorgonzola (without the best blue mould veins that make all the taste)... i guess over there you guys have more strict hygienic restrictions.

Ana said...

What a great blog you have here!
I'll add it to my blog list.