Caciocavallo Podolico is one of the world’s most expensive cheeses thanks to the Podolica cattle from which its milk and name are derived. This rare breed thrives on lots of wild herbs, but very little water.
As strictly wild grazers their milk yields are small, between three to six liters a day. It’s this high-fat, richly herbaceous milk that earns Caciocavallo Podolico cheese upwards of $50 a pound. Now that’s a lot of cheddar!
Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese
Caciocavallo pronounced ca‧cio‧ca‧vàl‧lo is a hard, raw cow’s milk cheese. Nicknamed “the Parmigiano Reggiano of the South” it tastes like a stronger more intense Parmigiano Reggiano.
Intensely aromatic flavors come from the Podolica cow’s unique diet of wild fennel, licorice, and myrtle.
Aged Caciocavallo Podolico cheese is the most valuable. Especially when we’re talking about years of time in a cheese cave because aging intensifies the flavor and creates a firm texture.
The Di Gilio family farm in Ferrandina (province of Matera) houses over 100 Podolica cattle. The video clip below shows the traditional milk-by-hand technique that is still used today. Plus an adorable Pololica calf who is looking mighty thirsty for Mom’s rich milk, so cute!
Podolico Cattle Video
What Caciocavallo Means
Naturally, Caciocavallo Podolico cheese its named after the cattle breed. Furthermore in Italian “cacio” means cheese “cavallo” means horse and “a cavallo” means on horseback.
Now imagine bundles of cheese, tied in pairs, hanging over a tree branch in the Italian countryside. This is how Caciocavallo got its name.
The bundles look as if they are straddling the branches. Thus the full name.
How to Eat Caciocavallo Podolico
Despite the cost and unusual shape Caciocavallo can be eaten like any other slice and serve cheese. That said harder-aged Caciocavallo is also perfect for grating over red meat sauces or Tajarin pasta with mushrooms.
The flavor is intense and a little goes a long way. Personally, one of my favorite things about Caciocavallo is that it has staying power both in flavor and freshness. Great quality for an expensive cheese to have!
Kept in a cool, dry place Caciocavallo will last for several months. Once cut, simply store it in cheesecloth and keep it in the fridge.
Where to Find Caciocavallo Podolico
In Italy Caciocavallo isn’t hard to find. In America, it might be trickier. Here are a few tips on where to find Caciocavallo cheese near you. Murry’s Cheese one of New York City’s best cheese shops began bringing cheese to the masses back in 2015 when it partnered with Kroger. Or you can try buying Caciocavallo online at Murry’s Cheese.
At Whole Foods try asking the cheese counter if they can order it, especially for you!
Tasting Caciocavallo the First Time
My own first experience with Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese was a highly memorable one.
Here’s the story in brief.
My husband and I were window shopping in Vieste when the site of an entire wall of Caciocavallo Podolico Cheese stopped us in our tracks.
As we stood pointing our fingers through the window, we finally looked up. The cheesemaker at Formaggeria La Massaia himself had caught us gawking. Little did we know he was about to give us a tour of his cheese cave!
Each step down those dark cellar stairs came with an intensifying aging cheese scent. It was here, standing among hundreds of bulbs of cheese that I learned about the Podolica cattle and Caciocavallo cheese.
That afternoon we feasted on an aged Caciocavallo Podolico cheese served with a side of tomatoes to smash on fresh crusty bread with local white wine. That experience is what convinced me Caciocavallo Podolico is worth the splurge! Especially when served up beside a gorgeous view of the Adriatic.
How about you? What’s your favorite guilty cheese pleasure?
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Caciocavallo Podolico References