I met a new friend at the Louisville farmers market. Not a human friend, for the uber cool hipsters in The Ville need not waste their time socializing with excitable tourists. Rather, I found a cheese friend named Agri’, a Sicilian-style cream cheese cured in an herbed olive oil. I’ve never heard of it before and I can’t find any information on this style. Cheesemaker Giovanni Capezzuto told me, in a thick Italian accent, that he’s the only person making this cheese in the whole country.
Capezzuto is the cheesemaker at Sapori d’Italia. He makes old world Italian-style cheeses, which are featured on cheese plates around Louisville. While his older cheeses like the Toscana are delicious in their own right, the Agri’ is far more intriguing in its unique, marinated state. The cheese looks as basic as mozzarella balls in herbed oil, but it tastes more like a rich, complex version of Labneh, a yogurt cheese from the Middle East. While Labneh is usually drained of whey for about 24 hours, Agri’ is strained for about two weeks before marinating. The resulting cheese is silky and mild, with a slight bitterness from the olive oil. This cheese demands a crusty loaf of ciabatta.
This is a great snacking cheese because it comes in little, perfectly-portioned balls. Try Agri’ by itself or melted onto bruschetta. I recommend a bright Sicilian wine to pair or even some Italian lager.
Milk: pasteurized cow
Provenance: Nicholasville, KY
Cost: $8.00 for an 8 ounce jar
Palate level: beginner
Profile: fresh, tangy, soft
Pairings: crusty bread, bright red wine, sautéed summer squash