Dallas’ Mozzarella Company won four ribbons at the American Cheese Society Annual Competition last weekend in Montreal, Canada, more than any other Texas cheesemaker. They were one of a very select group of cheese companies to win three first place ribbons! This marks the 25th year that Mozzarella Company cheeses have been singled out for their excellence by the prestigious judges of the ACS. This year’s winners were: 1st place – Hoja Santa Goat Cheese; 1st place – Goat’s Milk Ricotta; 1st place – Pecan Praline Mascarpone; 3rd place – Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote
If you haven’t eaten at least two gallons of that Pecan Praline Mascarpone you haven’t lived. Jump for Lambert’s thrill of victory:
Paula Lambert, founder of Mozzarella Company, states, “It is a magnificent accomplishment and a testament to the love and hard work that we put into our cheeses. I am especially thrilled that this year’s winning cheeses reflect the terroir of Texas. They are truly unique and delicious cheeses.
Speaking of terroir, my inspiration for the Hoja Santa Goat Cheese is Stephan Pyles. In the mid-80’s at Routh St Café he prepared salmon wrapped in an hoja santa leaf for Julia Child. I loved the anise flavor of this leaf, and Patricia Quintana frequently uses this leaf for wrapping fish and chicken in her acclaimed Mexico City restaurant, Izote. So, years later when I wanted to create a leaf-wrapped cheese, I remembered their dishes. By wrapping the cheese in the distinctive Hoja Santa leaf the cheese is infused with a captivating flavor of sassafras.
The inspiration for Goat’s Milk Ricotta is purely Italian. It is made in the classic Italian method, however from the whey of goat’s milk cheeses. It is light cheese drained in a basket with a lovely light goat’s milk flavor.
Chicago Chef Rick Bayless is the inspiration for the Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote. Years ago we discussed a woman who made delicious squash-blossom tacos on a comal in a little village outside Oaxaca in Mexico. I told Rick that I would make a cheese for him with the same flavors of those tacos so he could stuff in squash blossoms at his restaurant Frontera Grill. It has a wonderful fresh flavor.
And the inspiration for Pecan Praline Mascarpone comes from my heritage and love of Southern foods. When I was growing up in Fort Worth I loved to make pralines. Early in the life of Mozzarella Company, I developed our Mascarpone Tortas … mascarpone layered with basil pesto and other savory fillings. Around that time a friend brought me some pecan pralines and it came to me in a flash that they would be delicious stirred into the mascarpone. My next idea was to serve the Pecan Praline Mascarpone torta with ginger snaps … now my favorite accompaniment is Empire Baking Company’s Pecan Raisin bread. We always serve this combination at the events …. And it is always everyone’s favorite.
The 2011 Judging & Competition saw a record number of entries: 1,676 cheeses and cultured milk products from 258 different companies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Selected Mozzarella Company cheeses are available in stores such as Tom Thumb, Whole Foods, Central Market, Market Street as well as at Scardello’s and Eatzi’s. A complete selection of all cheeses is available at the Mozzarella Company shop in Deep Ellum and online at www.mozzco.com.