Thursday, October 23, 2008

Giacomo Vitto, Master Mozzarella Maker

We visited Giacomo Vitto and watched and learned about his tradition of making fresh mozzarella. Giacomo has been making mozzarella since he was a boy of 10, at his father's side.

Although fresh mozzarella is not a traditional cheese of Umbria (pecorino is the typical cheese), Giacomo brought his cheesemaking tradition and opened up shop when he moved to Amelia from southern Italy many years ago.

Giacomo has his hands in very hot water for most of the morning, as he fashions the cheese by hand from the fresh milk. Ricotta is made from the whey that falls to the bottom of the bins. Incredibly delicious, especially as a breakfast treat, is fresh ricotta with crusty bread and chestnut honey. Beautiful. We enjoyed Giacomo's fresh mozzarella in insalata caprese, with ripe tomatoes, basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.

Giacomo made us some wonderful little animal sculptures out of mozzarella! So fun. Then he described how he is continuing his father's tradition of making an entire Nativity Scene for the store's window, entirely out of mozzarella! That alone is worth a return visit to Amelia in December!

By 1pm, the shop is often sold out of cheese. Giacomo loads up all of the empty milk bins to return to the farmer and collects more milk for tomorrow's production, then heads home for lunch and a pisolino (nap). Ahh. La bella vita.

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