Now That Cheese Tastes
A farmstead cheese is created with milk from animals that live on the same grounds where the cheese is made, as opposed to milk sourced from another farm. My friend Colin Coyle, cheesemonger at Eataly in Chicago, gave me the rundown while feeding me three beautiful farmstead cheeses from Il Palagiaccio, a historic farm in Tuscany, Italy that he recently visited.
Anything that is made on the farm is going to give you a better product, generally speaking. When the producer has an investment in the land, in the animals, and in the end product, they have more control in the resulting cheese…These cheeses are produced using traditional methods and there is more of a focus both on animal welfare and sustaining the land. When you talk about sustainability, half of that is the farming. As the consumer, you’re part of that sustainability.
The cows at Il Palagiaccio, for example, eat an all organic, non-GMO diet, and the farm is completely sustainable. They even produce 100% of their cow’s feed, allowing for a higher milk quality. With this kind of control, farmstead cheesemakers are able produce a lot of raw-milk cheese, like the ones pictured: Peposo (top), a delicious black-pepper coated cheese, and Gran Tartufo (middle and bottom), made with truffles harvested a stone’s throw from the farm itself.
I’m not going to say that farmstead cheeses are automatically better than other cheeses, but they are always delicious and often eco-friendly. Ask your local monger for a farmstead wedge and see if you can taste the difference.