Our fearless leader, Scott, just got back from judging the World Cheese Awards in the coastal Basque town of San Sebastian… poor guy. He came back to Minnesota laden with a few great versions of classic cheeses from new producers, as well as a couple of new cheeses we had never tasted. The most peculiar of which was a mixed milk cheese from Caseificio Serpentino, a family owned creamery in Piedmont.
Mixed milk cheeses are nothing new, and are especially common in parts of Northern Italy. Born out of utility, combining milks from dairy animals was a way to stretch what milk supply you had and turn it into tasty, nutritious cheese. It’s not unusual to see two and three milk cheeses made from combinations of sheep, cow, goat, and even water buffalo. But when Scott told us he had found a cheese made with donkey milk… we all did a double take.
As far as milks go, Donkey is pretty unusual, but not altogether unheard of. In Serbia, “Pule” is a fresh made from donkey milk that holds the record for being the most expensive cheese in the world, at auction commanding upwards of 1000 Euros for a kilo of cheese. Donkeys only produce about 100 mililiters of milk a day (and fluid milk has only about a 10% yield in cheese making) so the scarcity of milk dictates the insanely high price of the cheese. Fortunately, by mixing milks you can enjoy the uniqueness of donkey milk (and the joy of telling your customers that it kicks ass…) with a much, much more reasonable price tag.
Our new Quattro Latti highlights the best features of all four milks: buttery cow milk, sweet floral notes from the sheep, fresh lemony tang from the goat milk… and from the donkey – the aroma of fresh hay and a bit of wild gameyness. Quattro Latti has a beautiful cave-aged wild rind that is speckled with spots of day-glow yellow and mottled gray molds. The texture is semi-firm in the style of a good Italian table cheese. Wheels weight approximately 8lbs, and are fresh off the plane. Mangia!