Caciocavallo is a traditional Italian stretched-curd cheese that originated in the southern Italian provinces of Abruzzo, Calabria and Campania. The name translates literally as ‘horse cheese,’ and while its meaning has been debated for centuries, it’s probably derived from the traditional method of transport; cheeses would be suspended like saddlebags across a horse’s flank for the journey down the mountain.
Caciocavallo, which belongs to the same family as Mozzarella and Provolone, was traditionally stretched and shaped by hand—a tradition that Lovera’s Market continues in their production of the cheese today. When Sam Lovera was a young boy in Krebs, Oklahoma, he was taught the traditional method of Caciocavalloa production by local Southern Italian immigrants.
Today Lovera’s Market produces a range of ‘Caciocaveras,’ their signature Caciocavallo-inspired cheeses formed into gourd shapes as well as a braided shape. Braiding the cheese is a great trick for giving it more surface area, thus speeding up and enhancing the conditioning process.
Sam Lovera’s son-in-law Sean Duffy is now the head cheesemaker at Lovera’s Market. His smooth, stringy cheese has won accolades for its nutty caramel notes.
According to Duffy, a fun way to eat the cheese is to undo the braid and peel apart the ropes like gourmet string cheese. Sam Lovera suggests pairing the cheese with a dry red wine.