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The cheese chain

Another weekend away and I wind up in yet another place offering cheese. This one is on the beautiful shores of Lake Orta in Northern Italy, Cusio Forgmaggi Botteghe in Pettenasco, which says, “sale and maturation of cheese and charcuterie” on its literature. The man behind the counter fed us samples of raw milk blue goat cheese and tutted when my husband bought beers. We also bought a spot of red wine that he recommended. Plus some local ham. Our man vacuum packed the products and carefully labelled them for transport back to London.

I was happy to see the Carozza family name on some of the labels – I went for a visit with Jaap de Jonge and a few British cheese makers several years ago in that neck of the woods.

The depth of flavour in the cheese purchased did highlight something about terroir that is a key note for cheese makers. It is really how to balance the need for making quality cheese with the demands of modern life, and to make money in regions that are far from urban centres. Getting the cheese to market and still having it be the cheese you made is another issue cheese makers face.

The cheese monger also was busy with a busload of French travellers, who came in off the bus and were trooped downstairs to where they had laid out a spread of local ham and cheeses. Let’s face it, sometimes a busload of tourists is not what you want to see, but I thought they were great. The cheese monger gave them all a happy Bonjour! as they paraded past the counter. If they know more about Italian mountain cheeses and acorn-fed ham by the time they came back up from the cellar, that is all to the good. No doubt they’ll buy a few bits to take home.

Spreading the word protects everyone’s livelihood. Good cheese making depends on it.

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