04 February 2010

Tomino di Talucco

Recently, we went to visit some local cheese makers in Val Lemina, the small valley directly up and over the hill behind Grandubbione, the hamlet at the end of our road.  Valeria and Mauro Gaido very kindly let us join them during their daily ritual of making a soft, ricotta style cheese, called Tomino, a local speciality and favorite.  Tomino can be all cows milk or a combination of cows and goat. 
This day they had about liters of milk from 15 cows and 45 goats. After bringing the milk t a boil the added their coagulating ingredient, allowed to set for the curds and whey to separate. Then they drain off as much whey as they can, which gets fed to the pigs, before dipping up the curds and dispersing then in to their containers to drain in. At one time they used terra cotta pots, but now, by law, those are no longer used. Pity, as I imagine there was something lost with that change.
Tomino is a mild, fresh cheese eaten simply as is, or as an accompainment to polenta, drizzled with hot pepper oil or a few grinds of black pepper on top.  After a few days as the water drains out and the cheese becomes more compact they will then be rolled in black or red pepper and left to dry out, getting a stronger flavor as it ages and in some cases, a wayyyyyy strong flavor. 
I use it as I would ricotta and it becomes a filler for pasta as well as one of my favorite dishes which is as an addition to a rustic torta, often made with spinach. I made the torta with some of this batch of Tomino with a seeded spelt crust and cima di rapa greens along with the tomini to make an outstanding, flavorful torte. Unfortunately, we were too greedily hungry to wait in order to get a photo. Guess I'll just have to make it again, so I can post a recipe for it. In the mean time, you can use my recipe for a spinach ricotta tart to tide you over, as it really is a wonderfully sastifying meal this time of year.
I tried to learn how to use my imovie function on my computer and so this post is much later in coming than expected as learning a new program always takes more time than I think it will. Hope you enjoy this journey into a cheese makers profession.

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