Crucolo, ubriaco, montasio, stracchino, robiola bosina, and pecorino crotonese are some of the new cheeses that we are beginning to work with here at Spacca Napoli. My friend Roberto Caporuscio (of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani) and I visited with John Nitti of Isola Imports in Chicago to review some of the wonderful cheeses that he has to offer, and to consider how they may be introduced into our repertoire of pizze. This has been wonderful research! Trying new combinations with my staff has been a lot of fun, as I think it has been for some of you who have come in to dine these past couple of weeks. These new pizze, named after the cheeses, have been long celebrated at home in Italy, both north and south.
Stracchino is a favorite in Recco, on the Ligurian coast east of Genoa. Stracchino is a soft and creamy, mild and delicate cheese. The name comes from the word “stracca,” meaning tired. It is said that the milk from the cows producing this particular cheese is richer in fats and more acidic because of their seasonal movement up and down the Alps. The locals in Recco make a focaccia ripieno (stuffed) with just stracchino while we add porcini mushrooms and a touch of basil.
Ubriaco means drunk in Italian. This cheese is made from cow’s milk, which is soaked in wine and covered with crushed grape skins. Musty, tart, and nutty in flavor, ubriaco originates from ancient times in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy when olive oil was scarce and expensive. Grape pomace and wine was plentiful after the harvest and was substituted to preserve the cheese. We use this one with prosciutto crudo.
Crucolo is from the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy and balances sweet, buttery, creamy, salty, and sharp nuances all so well. Coppa dolce, sundried and cherry tomatoes go with this one. We will soon begin to play with pecorino crotonese and its dance with soppressata piccante.
We have been involved with several charity events and have continued to commit our support to certain local not-for-profit community organizations. Calcio Chicago and their support of Big Brothers and Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, the Cook Italy Foundation and its support of the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and the Inspiration Corporation and its support of the homeless are favorites of mine.
As the holidays approach, we are also collecting gently used coats, hats and other cold weather items here at the restaurant for a neighborhood church. Please go through your closets and drawers and see if there is something you have that could benefit some one else. May all of you have wonderful holidays.
Information in this letter about the various cheeses is taken from the following websites:
Stracchino – www.appetizerstogo.com
Ubriaco – www.forkandbottle.com
Crucolo - maitre-fromager.livejournal.com