Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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cheese focus Janet Fletcher writes the email newsletter Planet Cheese and is the author of "Cheese & Wine" and "Cheese & Beer." WATER-BUFFALO CHEESES TO KNOW C heeses made with water-buffalo milk often have a distinctive tang or sourish note and a gamy flavor. Styles range from ricotta and ricotta salata to bloomy-rinds, washed-rinds, and blues. FROM QUATTRO PORTONI (LOMBARDY) Blu di Bufala: a thick 9-pound cube, lightly veined; natural rind; creamy, yeasty, and mellow. Casatica: a 2-pound soft-ripened ingot with aromas of yeast and mushroom. Porta Rocca: The creamery's newest cheese, aged for eight months; 3-1/2 pound wheel with a mild, milky flavor and an open, slightly crumbly texture. Quadrello: a 5-pound washed-rind square resembling Taleggio. FROM AFFINEUR LA CASERA (ITALY/PIEDMONT) Bergamino di bufala: semisoft bloomy-rind 4-pound square with a delicate, milky flavor and mushroom scent. Camembert di bufala: supple paste with a mushroom scent; runny when ripe. Fiore di bufala: fresh, rindless, soft disk; creamy and spreadable. FROM LA MAREMMANA (ITALY/TUSCANY) Fiore di Capalbio: a bloomy-rind cheese in an ingot shape. Grossetano: matured for three months; firm, gamy, and lemon, with a hard natural rind. Tramonto di Capalbio: Taleggio style. FROM CASA MADAIO (ITALY/CAMPANIA) Barilotto: ricotta salata style. Caciobufala: Provolone style with a natural rind. Ficaccio: semi-firm 2-pound wheel wrapped in fig leaves. Teneri: fresh ricotta. FROM KASEREI BERGLINDE (SWITZERLAND) Buffalo Berglinde: a 5- to 6-pound wheel with a washed rind; aged two to three months; firm, open texture and grassy, brothy flavor with a tangy finish. beasts reside in Asia, where they pull plows through the countless rice paddies of Thailand and Vietnam. The Mediterranean water buffalo raised in Italy is a different species (Bubalus bubalis) bred for milk production. By the end of the Second World War, Italy's bufale (that's the plural) numbered only 12,000, almost all of them in the Campania region around Naples. Retreating German soldiers had slaughtered several thousand. That figure has climbed to 370,000 head in Italy today, with more herds in Spain, Germany, and Switzerland. Efforts to establish Bubalus bubalis in the U.S. have largely failed due to the poor genetics and challenging economics. "It's difficult to make this business model work because it takes so long to scale," says Andrew Zlot, who milks about 100 water buf- falo at his Double 8 Dairy in Petaluma, California. "You can't just go buy 200 milking water buffalo. With sheep or goats, if you've got a checkbook you can do that." Zlot turns his milk into mozzarella and ricotta for high-end Bay Area restaurants like Delfina and Quince and can't meet demand. Domestic production will grow, but "in fits and starts," predicts Zlot. "There's a market for the product if you can get it made." Even in Italy, which has a much longer history with latte di bufala, balancing supply and demand remains problematic. Mozzarella sales soar in summer, producing a spike in cheese demand. But when vine-ripe tomatoes vanish, mozzarella con- sumption craters, a roller-coaster pattern common to few other cheeses made year-round. Keep an Eye on the Label To capitalize on the cachet of water-buffalo milk, some produc- ers are making mixed-milk cheeses that downplay the cow's-milk component. With names like Bufaletto and Bufalino, these products suggest that they are predominantly made with water-buffalo milk when the label's ingredient list tells another story. One package touts "100% Italian buffalo milk" on the front. And that's probably true. The water-buffalo milk is likely entirely sourced in Italy. But the ingredient list makes it clear that the cheese contains more cow's milk than latte di bufala. As the timeless saying goes, caveat emptor. To capitalize on the cachet of water-buffalo milk, some producers are making mixed-milk cheeses that downplay the cow's-milk component. 38 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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