Robiola Tre Latti Cheese

Robiola Tre Latti – Italy

I picked up a wheel of Robiola Tre Latti at the Alex Farm Products Cheese store located in the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (Ontario, Canada).

Robiola 3 Latti cheese

Robiola 3 Latti Cheese from Italy

This cheese is imported into Canada. It originates from the small town of Arona, in the province of Novara, in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy.

Province of Novara in Northern Italy

Province of Novara in Northern Italy

The small wheel of Robiola that I bought was produced by the Luigi Guffanti company. The company’s beginning dates back to 1876. They have an extensive line of cheese and they make several styles of Robiola. The term 3 Latti is Italian for three milks. This cheese is made from an equal mixture of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. There is a picture of three animals on the cheese’s label.

Robiola 3 Latti Cheese Label

Robiola 3 Latti Cheese Label

This sign was displayed at the Alex Farm Product’s cheese counter.

Robiola Cheese Sign

Robiola Cheese Sign

A Robiola cheese isn’t always made from three milks. It is often made from just cow’s milk, or goat’s milk, or the two combined. This particular Robiola takes the blending to the next level with the addition of sheep’s milk. It is a soft cheese produced in small wheels. In making this cheese the curds are hand ladled and allowed to drain naturally with no pressing. Robiola is a fresh style cheese aged as few as three days but up to three months. It ripens from the outside in. The Robiola Tre Latti cheese was wrapped in paper and had a very thin, almost non-existent rind.

I was surprised to find a  “fresh” cheese that was imported from so far away. The importers have a short window of time to get this cheese from the farm in Italy to the cheese counter in Toronto without spoilage.

This Robiola was very pale, with a buttery tinted rind and a very white paste (center).

Robiola 3 Latti Cheese from Italy

Robiola 3 Latti Cheese from Italy

What does Robila Tre Latti taste like? This is a mild cheese. It is very soft and spreadable. The equal mix of different milks is interesting. You can sense some characteristic of each milk as you taste. It carries a taste reminiscent of fresh milk.  I would say the goat milk was the dominant flavour followed by sheep with the cow’s milk along for the ride. To really appreciate this cheese I think you would need to have some taste experience with goat and sheep cheeses.

The sign at the cheese counter suggested that this cheese is earthy, mushroomy with a sour hint. I did not find it earthy or mushroomy. Those are flavors that are usually opposite fresh. The sour hint was definitely there mixed with some saltiness.

The flavor of the three milks blend together well into a delicate, mellow, easy going cheese with a smooth texture. This is a cheese to chillax with. This cheese should appeal to most palettes. It is more prone to calm than excite. This cheese is good for spreading on crackers and it would work well as a dessert cheese.

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Ossau-Iraty – Sheep’s Milk Cheese from France

Ossau-Iraty – France

I discovered Ossau-Iraty at C’est Cheese Please in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada). Ossau-Iraty is imported from France.

Ossau Iraty Cheese Sheep's Milk Cheese from France

Ossau Iraty Cheese Sheep’s Milk Cheese from France

This is a Sheep’s milk cheese that has held the French AOC designation (appellation d’origine controlee) since 1980. It is one of only three sheep’s milk cheese with the AOC status in France.

I found an informative French website at www.ossau-iraty.fr that describes the production of Ossau-Iraty. There are multiple producers of Ossau-Iraty. The cheese that I bought and tried from C’est Cheese Please was produced by Onetik, located in Macaye, France.

Ossau-Irity is produced in the Pyrénées-Atlantique department of the Aquitaine region of Southwest France.

Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France
Pyrenees-Atlantiques, France

It takes 5-6 liters of milk to make one kilo of Ossau-Iraty. Rennet is added to the sheep’s milk to form curds. The curd is cut and separated from the whey by heating. The curds are then pressed, drained and placed in a mold creating it’s final form. The cheese is salted and aged in Pyrenees mountain caves for over ninety days.

What does Ossau Iraty taste like? I found this cheese to be sweet, buttery and nutty with hints of toasted hazelnut.  It has a wonderful rich and smooth finish. As my cheese palette develops, I am appreciating sheep’s milk cheese more and more.

This cheese melts well. It can lift a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheese burger to the next level.  The French often accompany Ossau Iraty with black cherry jam. For a wine pairing, the C’est Cheese Please website recommends Sauvignon Blanc, Madrians, Pinot Noir, Chianti or Merlot wines.

Ossau-Irity is a very good Sheep’s milk cheese. For me, this is a benchmark cheese to measure other sheep’s milk cheese against. I recommend it.

Moliterno Pecorino Infused with Black Truffle

Moliterno Pecorino Infused with Black Truffle

Moliterno Pecorino Infused with Black Truffle

This is a raw sheep’s milk cheese that comes from Sardinia, Italy.

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia, Italy

I found this cheese at Goat Inc. in Port Credit (Ontario).

Moliterno Label

This cheese is made by first aging the sheep’s milk cheese for 12 months and then injecting it with black truffle paste. The cheese is then further aged another 5 months. Even though the truffle paste is concentrated in the veins, the truffle flavour permeates the entire cheese. During aging, the rind is repeatedly washed with an oil and vinegar bath to maintain the moisture in the cheese. The cheese is produced in 6 pound wheels.

This medium firm cheese is interesting to look at with its greyish yellow paste. The paste is accented by the veins of luxurious truffles running through it providing an elegant contrast of colour, texture and flavour.

What does Moliterno Pecorino Truffle cheese taste like?  This cheese has a strong earthy flavour. A little goes a long way. It has … presence. It starts medium firm then quickly dissolves on the tongue. It becomes creamy with an earthy, salty and rich taste.

This is not a cheese for the timid but if you like truffles then you will probably really enjoy this cheese. Pair this cheese with a big fruity red wine such as Barolo, Barbaresco or Amarone.

I really liked this Moliterno Pecorino Truffle cheese. I will feature this cheese on my “Walking the Wild Side” cheese board.

Zamorano Cheese From Spain

Zamorano Cheese

Spanish Zamorano Cheese

Recently I made a visit to my neighbourhood cheese store – Goat Inc. in Port Credit (Ontario). The store’s cheesemonger, Joe Ambrus, suggested I try some Zamorano. I thought that was a very sexy name for a cheese. It just rolls off the tongue and can be pronounced with bravado. It made me think of Zorro.

Zorro

Zorro

Zorro was a fictional character that defended the people of California during the Spanish colonial era against tyrannical officials and other villains. I imagine that his relatives, back in Spain, probably sent him Zamorano cheese as a reward for his heroism.

But I digress, enough about Zorro. Let’s explore this cheese.

Zamorano is a sheep’s milk cheese originating from the Province of Zamora in Spain. It is produced from the milk of Churra and Castellana sheep.

Churra Sheep

Churra Sheep - Image by Fernando Garcia, Madrid

The Zamorano cheese is a hard cheese with a beautiful rind.

Zamorano Cheese Rind

Zamorano Cheese Rind

For 6 months, while it ages, the cheese is bathed in olive oil and turned. The repeated washing leaves the textured rind with a beautiful glossy finish. The rind is edible and it tastes as good as it looks.

What does Zamorano cheese taste like? It is nutty, salty, buttery, and sweet with a flavour that lingers on the tongue. It is a little bolder than Manchego (another popular Spanish cheese that I have had, but not yet reviewed). My wife said it reminded her a little of Piave. My son liked it at first. When I told him it was sheep’s milk he twisted his face as if he had just been tricked. After a minute, he thought it through and asked for another piece. He said sheep’s milk cheese was better tasting than he expected.

For me, Zamorano is tasty but not a stand alone cheese. I think this one needs complimented with a good wine, fruit or cured meat pairing. It would be good on a cheese plate simply because the rind is gorgeous, it is from Spain, it is made from sheep’s milk … alas, it is interesting. The flavour is centered enough that I expect most people would like this. It is a safe bet.

When I serve it I think I’ll carve a “Z” on top and tell everybody it was Zorro’s favourite cheese … why not?

Fifth Town’s Bonnie and Floyd Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Fifth Town's Bonnie and Floyd Sheeps Milk Cheese

I found an interesting Canadian made Sheep’s milk cheese called “Bonnie and Floyd”. It is made by Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company in Picton, Ontario.

The Fifth Town website has a link to download “Cheese Note Cards” which provide a picture and brief description of the cheeses they make. Here is the card describing Bonnie and Floyd from the cheese makers perspective.

This cheese is also the choice of Royalty … no kidding.

The Fifth Town Website reports that:

On Friday, November 6th, Prince Charles toured the Brick Works project and also visited the Farmer’s Market!  He stopped to talk to several vendors including Fifth Town.  Dave Smyth, our farmer’s market rep at Evergreen was there to tell the Prince all about Fifth Town. He apparently sampled the cheeses and then asked “how much” for a piece of Bonnie & Floyd. Dave told him $9. Turns out His Majesty likes sheep milk cheese.  The Prince then turned to Minister Jim Flaherty to see if he could spot him a $10 to buy the cheese.  Luckily, he had some “stimulus funds” in his pocket!

Prince Charles choosing Bonnie and Floyd - image from Fifth Town Cheese Website

In 2010, at the 83rd annual British Empire Cheese Show organized by the Central Ontario Cheesemakers Association, Bonnie and Floyd took 1st place in the division of Artisan Sheep’s Milk Cheese.

What does Bonnie and Floyd taste like?

It was mild at the start then it developed a light, flowery, earthy flavor. It is not overly salted and I appreciate that. It finishes with a nice light buttery, nutty taste. I like it.

What do Prince Charles and I have in common? For one thing we both appreciate a good Sheep’s milk cheese.

Greek Kasseri Cheese

I decided to try some Macedonia Greek Kasseri Cheese today. I saw it while shopping at Michael-Angelo’s Market Place in Mississauga.

Greek Kasseri Cheese

This is a Greek cheese made from ewe’s (female sheep) milk or a blend of sheep and goat milk. When blended, the cheese can contain no more than 20% goat’s milk by weight.

This cheese is semi-hard, mild, slightly salty with a faint buttery taste. It is pale yellow with no rind. It would make a nice table or snacking cheese. One website I researched referred to Kasseri as “Greek Mozzarella”. Evidently it is a good melting cheese and could be used on pizza, in sandwiches or with eggs. I have not experimented with that yet.

The mean composition of Kasseri is : moisture 42.2%, fat 25.2%, protein 25.8%, salt 3.1% and pH 5.7.

Kasseri is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. It is one of twenty Greek cheeses that has been certified by the European Union. PDO cheese must meet standards regarding the origin, the animals and the production methods.

Kasseri is consistantly rich since it is made only in the months when the milk is creamy and sweet. It is hand stretched, kneaded and put into special molds. The cheese rounds are aged in special rooms for six months. The flavor continues to develop and improve even after it has been packaged. Like most traditional Greek cheeses Kasseri is “organic” since it is produced from the milk of Sheep and Goats that graze in regions free from fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides.

Kasseri is the cheese used in the famous Greek dish Saganaki in which cheese is fried then flambéed.

I liked this cheese. It is not the kind of cheese that makes me want to tell people they must try it. But it was pleasant, affordable and a bit different. I don’t know if I’ve ever had sheep’s milk cheese before. Maybe that was a first. I’m paying a lot more attention to the cheeses I encounter and trying to figure them out and understand them better. It seems every cheese has a story behind it and this one took me to Greece. Opa!