Queso Oaxaca (Mozzarella Co)
Located in Dallas, Texas, the Mozzarella Company was founded by Paula Lambert in 1982. Paula’s passion for all things Italian was the inspiration for the Company’s creation, although when the company started in the early 80’s, it was somewhat ahead of its time in terms of being able to find a ready market for fresh Italian style mozzarella. However, persistence together with great products really paid off and The Mozzarella Company has grown steadily and expanded over the intervening decades.
Paula’s inspiration for the creation Italian pasta filata cheeses stems from her love of Italian cheese as well as her frustration at not being able to find Fresh Mozzarella in Dallas during the 1980’s. Determined to put this right, she spent time at a small cheese factory near Perugia where she learned to make fresh mozzarella. Paula continues to use the pasta filata cheesemaking skills that she learned in Italy in the production of her range of fresh and young, Italian type cheeses.
Upon arrival at the creamery, the milk, sourced from Dairy Farmers of America, is pasteurized. Starter cultures are added to the milk along with rennet. Once coagulated, the curd is cut both horizontally and vertically by hand with cheese knives, forming the curds into small soft cubes and releasing a quantity of excess whey. The curds are allowed to “rest” in the whey until they reach the correct texture. At this point, hot water is poured over them and the curds are stretched and worked with a small paddle until they become malleable, smooth and satin-like in texture. This is the most crucial and skilled part of the cheesemaking process, because there’s only a small window of opportunity to stretch the curd. If the curd is worked before the pH level reaches 5.2, it becomes tough and inferior. However, if the pH falls too low, the curd won’t form into cheese.
Assuming all goes well, desired shapes are pinched off from the stretched curd and immediately tossed into cool water to chill down. In the production of Mexican-inspired Queso Oaxaca, the curd is stretched into long ribbons, which are then rolled into balls. One the balls are chilled, they are briefly placed into a brine solution.
Mozzarella Company’s Queso Oaxaca smells of sour milk and butter, and has a pliant, tender paste. Strings pull apart nicely without breaking. Flavor is tangy and yogurt-y yet mild, with hints of Meyer lemon.
Pair this Queso Oaxaca with a light, fruity white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc.