With the equinox behind us, new growth everywhere and the weather doing its deliciously haphazard spring thing, it is clear the seasons have changed.
These seasonal changes impact the way we work in at Vannella, not just because of the subtle shifts in the milk we work with, but also the different cheeses we make and of course the way we eat them at home.
Each season we will send you a little on the comings and goings of the factory and our cheese making, the dairies where we source our milk and a look at what’s happening with our cheese in your restaurants and homes.
“It looks like we may just be given another spring like last year’s - good rainfall followed by sunny periods and warm temperatures (it’s 19 to 26 degrees at moment) - perfect conditions for growing pastures.
This year we did see earlier signs of a spring flush – particularly through the tropical grasses such as Seteria, and legumes such as pinto and vignor. We are 100% grass/pasture feed, only supplying some molasses in the bails to keep buffalos happy during milking, with these new pastures higher in energy and protein the cows will really start to get shine on them. They enjoy these warm days as much as we do!
While the new growth means less roughage (which stimulates extra butterfat), the extremely lush tropical pastures typical of this time of year, are rich in antioxidants and bio-actives (which is already very high in buffalo milk) such omega-3 fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and conjugated linoleic acid (a beneficial fatty acid).”
- Mitch Humphries of Australian Dairy Buffalo Company, North Queensland
Vannella Cheese was born in Conversano, Puglia. The southern Italian town is also the birthplace of our Mum, Pina Vannella. Our Dad, Vito Minoia, the head cheese-maker at Vannella, was born 15km down the road.
Conversano is also the birthplace of our burrata, a fresh, stretched curd cheese that is filled with creamy stracciatella and then hand-tied. At 16 years old, Dad (apprenticed to a cheesemaker in Conversano), learnt how to hand stretch curds for this cheese the traditional way. Back then everything was done by hand: the burrata, fior de latte, treccine, nodini, scamorza.
When we moved to Australia, we brought a little bit of Conversano with us - we brought the cheese. In fact, we moved our lives around this cheese, first setting up in Cairns (where we met Mitch) to be close to the dairy herds and buffalo and later moving to the city, to bring the fresh cheese closer to the tables where it was being served.
Our cows’ milk cheese is stretched tissue-thin and filled with creamy stracciatella and then a knot is hand-tied at the top, sealing the pouch and creating a brilliant contrasting texture.
A combination of sfilacci and cream (both made with cows’ milk) - after stretching the curds we shape them into cords by hand and rest them for a day, when we tear the curds, mix with cream and salt.
Mum loves to do burrata with seasonal veggies and fruits: here it’s a salad of broad beans, orange segments, fennel, blueberries and extra virgin olive oil.
Fennel and broad beans are very traditional foods for us to eat in Puglia and my grandfather plants them, so everyday he would come past home and drop some over. This is a taste of home for us all.
We were so thrilled to see Clayton Wells’ dish at Automata make the top ten dishes in this year’s SMH Good Food Guide.
“… burrata injected with shellfish oil is more of a mainstay. Pierce the creamy white mozzarella and step back as shiny orange goodness puddles the plate to be daubed with bread. Oils ain't oils unless they've seen a prawn head.”