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Top Pick Of The Week

October 31, 2006

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Texas Sampler
Mozzarella Company makes 35 artisan cheeses.The selection above, Smoked Scamorza, Basil Caciotta and Ancho Chile Caciotta, can be purchased as the Texas Sampler.
WHAT IT IS: Artisan Italian-style, Mexican and other cheeses, made in Dallas, Texas.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Classic styles with a fresh point-of-view and some innovative spins.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Palate-dazzling flavors that remain in memory years after the cheese has been tasted. It’s the reason these cheeses have been winning awards for 20 years.
WHERE TO BUY IT: MozzCo.com.


Mozzarella Company:
More Than Mozzarella

CAPSULE REPORT: America has its great cheesemakers, but there is only one Paula Lambert. The story of how she started Mozzarella Company in 1982 and created the market for artisan Italian cheeses in Dallas is now legend in the specialty food industry. But before we knew about the lady or the legend, we happened to taste the cheeses and we knew one thing: they were like nothing else we had ever tasted. Each cheese is more eye-opening than the next. If a fine tailor is an artisan who makes a quality suit, then Paula Lambert is Dolce & Gabbana. Her cheeses are grounded in classic technique, but each has a special flare that makes it memorable.

Mozzarella Company’s cheeses have won awards at the annual American Cheese Society competition every year since they were first entered, in 1985, and are clamored-for by a national audience of fans. You can have them express-delivered; and Paula’s book on cooking with cheese is a must-have for any cheese-lover. Read the full review below.

Learn More About Cheese

Cheese-A Connoisseur's Guide French Cheese The Cheese Plate
Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to The World’s Best, by Max McCalman. Maître Fromager McCalman profiles 200 of the world’s very best cheeses from A (Aarauer Bierdeckel) to Z (Zamorano). A wonderful book, complete with all the practical information and fascinating details a connoisseur could want. Click here for more information or to purchase. French Cheese, by D.K. Publishing.
The French are perhaps more serious about their cheese than anyone—and they make 247 different ones. This highly informative reference provides the history and essential information on each, as well as advice as what wine to drink with it. The next time you look at a case of cheese, you’ll be able to call the French ones by name. Click here for more information or to purchase.
The Cheese Plate, by Max McCalman. Dean of Curriculum and Maître Fromager at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center and school in New York City, McCalman has produced a wonderful book. It includes perhaps the best published information about pairing cheese and wine. Click here for more information or to purchase.

More Than Mozzarella: Mozzarella Company Cheeses

INDEX

 

How a world-class artisan cheese company ended up in Dallas—in an artists’ neighborhood known for its music clubs—is a journey. While vacationing in Italy twenty-five years ago, Paula Lambert grew so enamored of the fresh Mozzarella served to her that she knew the only way to enjoy it upon her return was to make it herself—there was no fresh Italian cheese in Dallas in 1981. She stayed in Italy to study Mozzarella-making with a local cheesemaker, found a university professor who taught cheesemaking to be her consultant, and returned to Dallas to wend her way through local and federal government regulations so she could open a small specialty cheese factory. She was convinced that if she could make a good product, she could create a market for it in Dallas.

 

Soon, not just Mozzarella but Caciotta, Crescenza, Mascarpone, Ricotta and Scamorza were streaming forth. There were a few years of struggle in a marketplace that didn’t understand fine Italian cheeses...and then the national awards started to come in. Today in Deep Ellum, a neighborhood on the eastern edge of downtown Dallas that hosts music clubs and artists, Paula, her partners and a team of talented cheesemakers make beautiful music in Mozzarella and more.

What’s The Difference Between Parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano? Between Artisan Cheese and Farmstead Cheese?
You can catch up on many other informative articles on cheese in our Cheese Section. For a quick cheese education, read the Cheese Glossary, one of more than 50 NIBBLE food glossaries on topics from A (Antioxidant Foods) to Y (Yogurt).

The Magnificent Cheeses Of Mozzarella Company

The American artisan cheese movement is perhaps 40 years old: It started in drips and drabs with the hippie culture of the 1960s; the American Cheese Society was established in 1982. When you read that American cheeses are as good as any in the world, winning top awards at world competitions, besting cheeses that have been made and refined in their local villages for hundreds or thousands of years—it is because of the vision and dedication of people like Paula Lambert who loved cheese, learned the craft and worked hard to create a market for their products.

 

The Cheese List

From a desire to make Mozzarella and a few other Italian cheeses, Mozzarella Company now makes 35 varieties of cheese and has won twice as many awards for them. Paula Lambert is one of the most admired cheesemakers in America. From the original group of Italian cheeses, the repertoire expanded to Mexican cheeses (Dallas  serves a lot of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine), and the creative muse (and market demand) has grown to include Crème Fraîche, Feta and specialties like Fresh Texas Goat Cheese (traditional and flavored), Herbed Goat Logs and Deep Ellum Blue (a creamy blue cheese and a pun on the name of the neighborhood, and the blues music called Deep Ellum Blues that it was known for in the 1920s). One can happily nibble away at them all, but to take it one day at a time (or six cheeses at a time), we’ll start with a few and save the rest for later.

Goat Caciotta
Cow’s Milk Caciotta with Mexican Marigold Mint.

Caciotta: Dressing Up A Farmhouse Cheese. Caciottas are simple, semi-soft, smooth and creamy Italian farmhouse cheeses that are generally made with sheep’s milk, although some are made with cow’s milk. Mozzarella Company makes cow’s milk and goat’s milk caciottas, aged at least 2 months. The cow’s milk cheese is a Texas version of Monterey Jack, both mellow and savory. The goat’s milk version is robust and tangy. Both are available plain or flavored in Ancho Chile, Basil or Mexican Marigold Mint.

The flavorings accessorize a basic, tasty cheese in a way that good accessories enhance a fine suit. While one might not normally think to add marigold mint to cheese, please order it—it’s a star. Caciottas are good for snacking as well as for melting on bread, pizza and quesadillas.

  • $12.95/pound

Montasio Festivo: A Classic With A Twist. Montasio is a pasture-terraced mountain located northeast of Venice in the Friuli-Venezia region of Italy. The cheese named after it is a firm goat’s milk cheese used for eating or grating. It was originally made by the monks whose monastery owned the pastures, beginning in the thirteenth century. Today, the cheese is D.O.C.-designated.

Italian Montasio is nutty and slightly fruity. Mozzarella Company’s version, aged 6 months to 1 year, is pleasantly assertive, also with a nutty flavor. There is a plain Montasio, but the “festive” version, Montasio Festivo, is our choice. With Mozzarella Company’s eye for making a good thing better, it is rubbed with an ancho chile and olive oil paste that forms a thin, dark-red rind and imbues the cheese with more nuances of flavor. Ancho chile is full-bodied but mild—a tasty accent from Paula and her team. The monks would have approved.

  • $15.95/pound
Montasio
A goat’s milk cheese, Montasio Festivo, left, is rubbed with an ancho chili oil paste. Plain Montasio, right, is also available.

Hoji Santa
Snowy white goat rounds nestled in fresh hoja santa leaves seem right for any season: verdant in the summer, they turn into Christmas bundles for the holidays.

Hoja Santa Goat Cheese Bundles: Gourmet Goat. Most specialty food stores have a supply of fresh goat cheese. We are surrounded by great goat cheeses. Even so, we flipped for these fresh goat rounds wrapped in hoja santa leaves. Hoja santa is an aromatic herb commonly used for seasoning Mexican dishes. Its large leaf is also used to wrap fish, poultry and tamales. (The herb is also known as sacred pepper or Mexican pepperleaf because the leaf has a peppery aroma.)

The leaves flavor the cheese with a hint of mint and sassafras. The net effect is fresh tarragon. Each bite is a gentle taste of heaven. Beautifully tied with raffia, the rounds are impressive on a cheese plate and make a very nice gift for a goat cheese-lover.

  • $18.25/pound

Blanca Bianca: A Brand New Cheese. The newest member of the family, Blanca Bianca was conceived three years ago when the Dallas Slow Food Convivium announced that it would be holding a raw-milk cheese tasting. Mozzarella Company did not make a raw milk cheese at the time, but Paula decided to create one, designing a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese with a rind washed in white wine. A mellow, creamy cheese for wine (natch!), Paula says that it also pairs with cured meats such as salami and ham, and goes well with olives, roasted nuts, dried fruits and chutneys. Although that’s a pretty expansive list, we’d take it a step further:

This is a universally delicious and appealing cheese. It has enough complexity of aroma and flavor to engage a demanding cheese connoisseur, but not too much to intimidate a beginner. We love it.

  • $16.25/pound
Blanca Bianca
Blanca Bianca, a new raw-milk cheese (it debuted this month) is rubbed daily with white wine as it ages.

Mascarpone Tortas

Rich mascarpone with Basil Pesto and Toasted Pine Nuts (left), and Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto (right).

Mascarpone Tortas: Simply Sumptuous.  For entertaining anytime, or for a little self-indulgence now and then, there’s nothing like a mascarpone torta. Rich, creamy mascarpone is its own reward, but when layered with other goodies, it transforms into “cheesecake.” It can be spread on water crackers or sweet crackers like wheatmeal biscuits, or can simply be eaten with a fork.

On the savory side there are three flavors: Ancho Chile, Basil Pesto and Toasted Pine Nuts, and Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto. For sweetness, try the Pecan Praline flavor, wonderful with ginger snaps or strawberries (warning: if you have a sweet tooth, you may not want to share this one).

  • $19.55/pound
  • Mascarpone Quartet Sampler (One Of Each)
    $65.00, shipping included

Mozzarella: Of Course! How could we fail to mention Mozzarella Company’s mozzarella? In Bubba Gump style, it offers Bocconcini (salt-free bite-size balls), Capriella (goat’s milk mozzarella), Latte (cooking-size balls, salt-free and lightly-salted), Mozzarella Curd, Smoked Mozzarella, Smoked Scamorza, Queso Oaxaca (Mexican mozzarella, which is hand-stretched into long ribbons of string cheese and rolled up like a ball of yarn) and delectable Mozzarella Rolls, shown in the photo at the right.

The Mozzarella Rolls are filled, jelly-roll-style, with Basil Pesto, Green Olive, Jalapeño Chile, Prosciutto or Sundried Tomato. They can be sliced into delicious hors d’oeuvres, added to sandwiches and salads, eaten as snacks (we liked them melted on Italian bread), and would be enormously popular with a food-enthusiast crowd on Super Bowl Sunday.

  • $17.25/pound
  • Gift Basket: 1 Piece Of Each Flavor
    $60.00, shipping included
  • Cheese Sampler: Mozzarella Medley
    1 Piece Basil, Tomato & Olive Roll
    Two Balls Of Fresh Mozzarella
    $65.00, shipping included

 

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Mozzarella Rolls
Mozzarella Rolls: Pesto, Sundried Tomato and
Prosciutto.

queso oaxaca

Queso Oaxaca (Mexican mozzarella).

Samplers & Gift Baskets

Can’t decide? Mozzarella Company advances decision-making with a selection of samplers and gift baskets. Our favorites:

  • Five Favorites Basket. Five of the award-winning cheeses in a broad spectrum of flavors: a ball of fresh Mozzarella, a Mozzarella Roll filled with chopped green olives, a round of Fresh Goat Cheese topped with herbs of Provence, a wedge of mild Ancho Chile Caciotta and a wedge of bold and nutty goat’s milk Montasio. $65.00, shipping included.
  • Cheese Lover’s Basket.  All of the above plus 1/2 pound each of Crème Fraîche and fresh Ricotta, a Smoked Scamorza and a Mascarpone Torta with Basil Pesto and Pine Nuts. $105.00, shipping included.
  • Ultimate BasketUltimate Basket (photo at right). All of the preceding and more. A grand assortment of twelve award-winning cheeses that would make a marvelous cheese tray at a party. A ball of fresh Mozzarella, two Mozzarella Rolls (Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato), two rounds of Fresh Goat Cheese (plain and herbs of Provence), a mini-wheel of regular Caciotta, a wedge of Ancho Chile Caciotta, a wedge of Montasio, a piece of Smoked Scamorza and a Mascarpone Torta with Basil Pesto and Pine Nuts. Also included are fresh Ricotta, plus Crème Fraîche to pour over fruits and desserts, a knife and an assortment of crackers and toasts. $155.00, shipping included.
  • Goat Lover’s Sampler. Three pieces of mild, Fresh Goat Cheese (one plain, one topped with herbs of Provence and one with cracked black pepper), one wedge of Montasio and two wedges of goat’s milk Caciotta (one Basil, one Ancho Chile). $65.00, shipping included.
  • Texas Sampler. One pound each of Basil Caciotta and Ancho Chile Caciotta and a Smoked Scamorza. $50.00, shipping included. Photo at top of page.
  • South Of The Border. Your favorite Mexican food enthusiast will love this selection: Queso Fresco, a ball of Queso Oaxaca, a Queso Blanco with Chiles, a wedge of Ancho Chile Caciotta and a wedge of Mexican Oregano Caciotta. $65.00, shipping included.
  • Wine And Cheese Party (see photo below). Four delicious cheeses: Fresh Goat Cheese topped with French herbs, Ancho Chile Caciotta, Mozzarella Roll filled with green olives and Deep Ellum Blue, a creamy, earthy blue-cheese. A dozen wine-glass charm markers are included. $65.00, shipping included.

Note: When looking at the Cheese Sampler page of the company website, there’s an arrow at the lower right side that takes you to the second page of cheese samplers. It’s easy to miss.


The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook

In 2001, Paula published her first book, The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide: Over 150 Recipes The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guidewith Instructions on How to Buy, Store, and Serve All Your Favorite Cheeses. It is first and foremost a beautiful cheese cookbook, with 150 recipes that incorporate cheese. You can start your day with Ricotta Pancakes with Banana-Pecan Syrup and then make the Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto and Mascarpone Torta (photo below)—so beautiful that if you don’t have a special occasion this week, you’ll want to create one.

The easy Portobello-Goat Cheese Napoleons are sure to become one of your favorite impressive first courses. Ditto for the Lace Cookies With Orange-Mascarpone Filling and Raspberries. There are classics, like Rack of Lamb with Goat Cheese Crust, and Roasted Pork Loin with Dried Fruit Stuffing and Roquefort Sauce. And there are more creative concepts: Grilled Swordfish Steaks Stuffed With Pepper Jack, and Ancho Chicken Broth with Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms and Pepper and Brie Biscuits. There’s a recipe for one of our favorite desserts, Stilton Soufflé with Pears Poached in Port. And we can’t wait to make the Walnut-Crusted Stilton Cheesecake with Caramelized Apple Topping.

Mascarpone Torta
Sun-Dried Tomato and Bail Pesto and Mascarpone
Torta, a recipe from Paula’s first book.

If you can’t wait for the book to arrive, there are 30
or more recipes (but not the one above—you’ll
need to get the book) on the company website.


In fact, there isn’t a recipe in the book we don’t want to make—or at least want to eat, immediately (after reading about the ricotta and mascarpone sorbets, we had to call down to Il Laboratorio del Gelato for some ricotta, mascarpone and crème fraîche gelato as reinforcement). In addition to a chapter on buying, storing, cooking and serving cheese, we love the recipes for making cheeses at home: crème fraîche, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mascarpone, ricotta, queso blanco and aged tomme. And, Paula’s eight recommended cheese plates take the time and guesswork out of planning exactly what perfect combination of cheeses to buy.

Paula’s second book, Cheese, Glorious Cheese: More Than 75 Tempting Recipes for Cheese Lovers Everywhere, is due in February 2007. We can’t wait! You can click on the link to place an advance order at Amazon.com.

Stonewall Kitchen - Food Of The Month Club

The American Cheese Society

If you truly love cheese, consider a membership in The American Cheese Society (just $90 per year for consumer enthusiasts), and look into joining your state’s cheesemakers’ guild as well. Your dues will help support the work of artisan cheesemakers. At the state level, membership generally will inform you about cheesemaking classes, farm tours, tastings and other educational opportunities that will enhance your turophilia†.

†The love of cheese. A lover of cheese is a turophile. The word comes from the Greek words for cheese, tyros, and lover, philos.

The ACS was founded in 1982 and has grown to 1,200 members, a diverse group of cheesemakers, distributors, retailers, consultants, food writers, academicians and enthusiasts. Each July the Society hosts an annual conference and a world-renowned cheese competition in a different U.S. city, which culminates in the Festival of Cheeses—a mammoth tasting of the entrants and winners. The conference sells out, and only members can attend. The 2007 conference is in Burlington, Vermont. You can read our overview of the 2006 American Cheese Society conference, where 600 of the 941 cheeses entered were available for tasting at the Festival of Cheeses (and we don’t know if any one person got close to tasting even half of them). It’s a cheese-lover’s paradise. Also read NIBBLE cheese reporter (and conference attendee) Stephanie Zonis’ observations on trends in artisanal cheese.

Giving Thanks

One always has so many things for which to be thankful. With regard to cheese, there’s:

The artisan cheese movement, and the fact that one no longer has to go to Europe to get a good piece of cheese (which was the case when we were a college student learning about cheese).

Express delivery, which means that you can get the most perishable artisan foods from anywhere in America, delivered to your doorstep overnight (often faster than getting to a store).

A terrific Thanksgiving hostess gift from Mozzarella Company: an assortment that includes Blanca Bianca, an Hoja Santa Goat Cheese Bundle and a Mascarpone Torta with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto. No matter how good the Thanksgiving dinner, the cheeses will be more memorable. We’ve had them all, and we would be thankful to receive a set.

Thanksgiving Cheeses
Your host or hostess will thank you for this “Thanksgiving Special”: exquisite cheeses that are a welcome change from all of the turkey leftovers. $55.00, shipping included. (See “Seasonal Cheese Gifts” on the website.)

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves truly great cheese, sends truly great gifts and/or wants to introduce friends and colleagues to inspired fine cheese.

Mozzarella Company

Artisan Cheeses

  • Products priced variously, as described above
  • Cheese Of The Month Club
    6 Months or 12 Months
    $275 or $450
  • Additional products available on
    website

Purchase online* at
MozzCo.com

Telephone 1.800.798.2954
Fax: 1.214.741.4076
E-mail: Contact@MozzCo.com

Mozzarella Company products are carried at fine cheese stores and specialty food retailers in a dozen states. E-mail the company for the store nearest you.

Wine and Cheese Party
Wine And Cheese Party: 4 delicious cheeses and 12 wine glass charms. See the assortment description above.

If you’re in Dallas, you can visit the retail store and factory at 2944 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas 75226, 1.214.741.4072 or 1.800.798.2954. The facility is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check the website for dates of cheese tastings and cheesemaking classes.

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party and we have no financial relationship with respect to this sale. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.

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Read about some of our other
favorite products in the
Cheese, Butter and Yogurt Section of THE NIBBLE, and check out these articles:



Related Sections: Articles & Product Reviews:

Have A Favorite Cheese?

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ABOUT THE NIBBLE. THE NIBBLE, Great Food Finds, is an online magazine about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages, in every category. The magazine also covers tabletop items, gourmet housewares, and other areas of interest to people who love fine food.

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