The Vintage of Cheese

11 05 2012

Does anyone out there understand what spring really does to a small dog of sophisticated taste?

Spring cheeses made from the milk of newly lactating ewes, goats and cows, perch on the shelves of cheese shops on every corner.

Passing by, my whiskers perk, my tail stiffens and I leave a tiny whisp of drool along my trail like a child wandering through a fairy tale. 

While cheese is available throughout the year, there is an ethereal quality to a cheese made from an animal producing that mystery substance of milk for the first time.

It’s nature’s way. It’s instinct. It’s the discovery of life, renewed and boiled down to hope.

Which is what I do most in spring. Hope for a cheese less forbidden to the lactose-intolerant canine.

I content myself with bits of floor-fall.

I drool, therefore I am…a Dog.


Mozzarella in May

23 05 2009

 Mozzarella cheese. (dy1) There’s nothing like mozzarella cheese, especially when it comes in spring.  Fresh on the heels of calving, mozzarella in May is glorious. 

The Italian buffalo is a huge, red-eyed beast which lumbers across the grassy hillsides and wallows in the cool mud-streams along the valleys.  True mozzarella comes from Italy’s Campania region.  Naples is it’s center.  The mozzarella dairy, or caseificio, La Fenice, near Presenzano, is one of our favorite haunts for fresh cheese.

We drive about an hour south of Rome and in we walk.  The smell of buffalo hangs like overripe raw meat in the yard outsidePaestum buffalo's - and do they make great mozzerella! by rubinsteins_in_spainbut inside the dairy is immaculate.  The centerpiece is a large, shallow vat with a hundred white balls of mozzarella bobbing like tennis balls in the milky water.  The finished product, room-temperature and gooey heaven.

A man in the back room is beginning a new batch.  I watch as buffalo milk is brought in and curdled.  The whey is separated and the curd is ground in a mill, then molded and placed in hot water, stirred and kneaded like bread until it is smooth and shiny.  Then, small pieces are pulled away and formed into balls and brined for a short time.  Mozzarella made in the morning is ready by dinner time.  Warm, soft, rich and fresh.

Sure, it’s good with tomatoes and basil and a drizzle of balsamicMaking pizza by borud; tossed with pasta and tomato sauce; on any thin crust pizzaHomemade Pizza - Making of a Dough God by Bumbling B.

But there is nothing like true, fresh, still-warm mozzarella, hand held by the one you love, melting on your tongue and into your memory as spring fades into summer.


The Worm Turns

1 05 2008

Spring!  The Pincio park is covered with the miracle of tiny flowers Pushing towards Springpushing their way up through dark soilWhite and Yellow and my muzzle is covered with dirt.

The spring worm is turning once again.  willy the earthwormLight, earthy and with a hint of grit, like an unfiltered Chianti, they slip down my throat with ease.

And the mining required to find them is an added perk, for digging is the true avocation of any dog.  Dog digging holeDog diggingdigger dogThe precision involved is in avoiding the new flowers.  Return to your people with so much as a young petal on your tongue and cries spew forth as though a fine piece of undergarment had been tattered. 

It is a delicate operation removing the worm from the base of a new bud without harm to the spring color,   but well worth the trouble.  For the worn encapsulates all things of doggish dreams: it's a worm dayslim, filth, writhe and odor, heady after-taste,

the feeling of conquering heroConstantine - By This Sign, Conquer

….champion of the garden of Roman gods.Pincio Gardens, Rome, Italy Chow.

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