String Cheese (Fiore di Nonno)
Lourdes Smith comes from a long line of Italian cheesemakers; her great-grandfather Alphonso Fiore made cheese in Italy and then in Hoboken, New Jersey after immigrating to the US. She was inspired early on by watching her grandfather Joe, who had taken over Alphonso’s shop, making mozzarella, ricotta and basket cheese. Her business in Somerville, Massachusetts, whose name translates into “my grandfather’s flower,” is a salute to him.
Lourdes sources mozzarella curd from partner farms. She recently worked with Shy Brothers Farm in Westport, MA, which is run by two sets of fraternal twins, to develop a curd recipe using their antibiotic and hormone-free cow’s milk. Shy Brothers’ cows graze on pasture in a peninsula that juts out into the Westport River. After Lourdes receives the curd, she transforms it by hand each morning in her Somerville, MA kitchen.
The cheesemaking process begins by breaking the curd into even pieces using a tool called a guitar. Lourdes then adds hot water to the curd, which slowly brings it up to melting temperature so that it can be stretched using a wooden paddle, then shaped.
Fiore di Nonno’s String Cheese is made using fresh mozzarella that has been stretched and breaded to remove some of the moisture. Texture is stringy, easy to pull apart, and taste is milky, buttery and slightly salty with a distinctive taste from the addition of black nigella seeds.