Buona Madonna!

Buona Madonna! This is how my cousin Evelina in Sicily greeted me by text today. So, Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception or la Festa dell’Immacolata to you! Today’s feast recognizes that the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin — something with which, in Catholic dogma, every person is considered…

Let’s Talk Cheese: Part 9

In the Valle del Belice in Trapani Province, Sicily, they produce a DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin) certified “pasta filata” (stretched/pulled) cheese called Vastedda della Valle del Belice. The name, vastedda, comes from the local Sicilian language–vasta means “gone bad.” In other words, the cheese is made from pecorino cheese that…

Let’s Talk Cheese: Part 8

So, my tips when visiting the caseificio/cheese maker/dairy farm is to arrive early (8:30? You’ll have to ask their schedule.) to watch the process. But most importantly, to taste the tuma and ricotta right off of the draining table, when it’s still warm. Go hungry, and bring with you a few rolls of freshly baked,…

Let’s Talk Cheese: Part 2

On sheep farms that are serious about producing Slow Food designated, Certified Organic, or DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Origin) certified cheeses, they not only graze their sheep in regional fields that they know are safe for their animals, but they also serve their ladies grains and legumes that they grow on…