Cheese News from the Near West Side

Mike Clark, resident cheese-monger and gourmet at the Near West Side store, reports that he has just set out some very special cheeses, including a true bufala mozzarela. These exquisite cheeses are very delicate and in limited supply, so if great cheese is your cup of tea, try to stop in soon. Following is a description of each.


Steve Stroup


Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk

Place of Origin: California

Type of Milk: Organic Cow

Description: we finally managed to finally land some of this washed-rind (stinky), triple-cream cheese that finished runner-up for best-in-show at this year's American Cheese Society competition.  It won best-in-show at the 2003 competition.  Also picked up Pierce Pt., a seasonal, semi-soft, herbed cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.

Cascinotta and Tuma Trifulera

Place of Origin: Piemonte, Italy

Type of Milk: Sheep and Cow

Description: A characteristic product of the cheese-making tradition in this area, the Cascinotta is a true Tuma made from sheep and cow’s milk, good, simple and rustic, slightly aged with a soft consistency. Its most unique quality is in how it is aged, according to old traditions in a tuff cantina where the constant ideal temperature is maintained only by the thick stone walls.  

After being salted, each form is placed on cheesecloth. This natural fiber very slowly absorbs only the excess humidity, leaving the cheese its natural softness. The Tuma Trifulera follows a similar procedure but is made more precious with the addition of large pieces of black truffle from Alba.

Since both the basic recipe and aging process are the same, the final results are similar in taste and weight, about 400 grams each, and even with the addition of truffles, the classic tuma flavor is not lost. 

Cheese Tomino Da Padella

Place of Origin: Piemonte, Italy

Type of Milk: Cow and Sheep

Description: These small cheeses from Piedmont are made with a mix of cow and sheep milk. Slightly tangy and mild, they have a thin rind and soft, oozing interior. A traditional method of eating them entails warming them in a pan until the interior is completely liquid, held in by the rind.

Cheese Mozzarella Di Bufala

Place of Origin: Campania, Italy

Type of Milk: Buffalo

DescriptionThis authentic, traditional DOP Mozzarella is made from pure Water Buffalo milk and has a characteristic, extraordinary musky flavor, with a barely perceptible tang. Incredibly creamy yet supple, the fresh cheese retains the qualities and flavors of the fresh milk. 

Gres de Vosges  

Place of Origin: Alsace

Type of Milk: Cow

Description: Gres des Vosges hails from Alsace, the land of Munster, where the rich soil is perfect for growing cherry trees. Many of those cherries are used locally to make Kirsch, a crucial ingredient in the production of Gres des Vosges. The cheese is matured in three steps. For the first three weeks, it is bathed in a light brine. Then, for three more weeks, it is washed with diluted Kirsch. Then, for another week, it is brushed with undiluted Kirsch, enhancing its fruity finish. The rind is pinkish-orange from the repeated washings, with a slight granular texture from the salt crystals, and the paste is soft and oozy, with a strong aroma. The cheese is always decorated with a small fern sprig (it adds nothing to the flavor).