The ‘Caciocavallo’ cheese is one of the oldest and most typical cheeses of Southern Italy. Even Hippocrates (500 BC), illustrating the art used by Greeks for preparing cheese with the so-called ‘spun paste’ technique, referred to it. There are many hypotheses concerning the origins of the name 'caciocavallo'. According to a theory, it would result from a fiscal mould with the shape of a horse, affixed in the sixteenth century on these types of cheeses by the tolls of the Kingdom of Naples; another hypothesis connects the name to the method of transport used by shepherds, who placed their cheeses in pair on the rump of their horses (the Italian word ‘cavallo’ means ‘horse’). More likely, this name derives from the use of hanging these cheeses in pair for letting them dry, on both sides of a beam, or because its paste was shaped ‘a cavalluccio’ (little horse).
Among the most famous Caciocavallo, the best known is the ‘DOP Silano’, whose name 'Silano' derives from the ancient origins of this product, related to the plateau of Sila. It is characterized by an aromatic and pleasant flavour, which melts in the mouth, normally delicate and slightly sweet when the cheese is young, spicy when fully ripe, sometimes pungent with ageing.
The real DOP
The DOP Caciocavallo Silano can show ovoid, spherical, drop or truncated conical shape, and can be provided of little head or not. It is covered by a smooth, thin crust, which tends to become darker, covering of mould and taking a firmer consistency if ageing becomes longer. Its paste is homogeneous, white, and elastic when young; pale yellow, hard, and scaly in the aged forms. Its colour tends to be darker next to the crust. If whole, this cheese can be preserved in cellar; once sliced, wrapped in silver paper, it should be stored in the refrigerator or anyway in cool and dry environments.
If it is short- or medium-aged, goes well with white wines characterized by enveloping scent and good personality; if aged, it prefers medium-bodied red wines.
The Silano is characterized by an unmistakable taste. It can be eaten fresh or seasoned, grated or melted, used as a table cheese or as an ingredient for preparing typical starters and main dishes based on red meat and mushrooms. It is excellent for seasoning pizza, flat bread, garlic bread, pasta, flans, roulades of meat or vegetables. It is tasty as a side dish or as a main dish, if melted in a pan with the addition of salami and cold pork meats, anchovies, or mushrooms.
Respect the land and the tradition
The ‘Caseificio Paese’ is one of the few dairies remained on the plateau of Sila. The base of its philosophy consists in keeping alive the traditions of a three generations’ family who has always devoted itself to farming and cheese production, with a strong attachment to its land. The milk is produced in the neighbouring company stable, where cows and cow buffaloes are milked twice a day and live in free pastures, a necessary condition for the success of a tasty milk and an excellent cheese. The mission of the Caseificio Paese - which in addition to the most famous Caciocavallo produces mozzarella and ricotta of Sila, scamorza, juncata, and goat cheese - consists, as the owner Marco Paese explains, in «promoting the typical dairy products of the Sila Plateau by means of a complete chain, from production of fodders to cheese production, guaranteeing high quality levels. This is a dairy farm, in which the whole process is done in the traditional manner, in compliance with the healthy old rules, because we process raw milk only, as it comes from the stable. Neither pasteurization nor chemical ferments are used, which can alter the nature of the milk: the only element which is used for preserving our products is salt. In addition, the critical stages of our processing - such as those during which a cord is prepared that is shaped and vigorously moulded, until an inner part without voids and a smooth outer one are obtained, then, each piece of paste is closed at its apex by immersing it in boiling water - are performed by hand».
The dairy has a glass wall which allows to anyone who watches from outside to see and verify the real natural and artisanal processing of the products, in which every production stage is monitored and carried out with the utmost respect for the most advanced hygiene rules and Community Regulations (H.A.C.C.P. self-control systems and EEC acknowledgement).
Packaging, too, is ‘natural’. It is provided with the Consortium certification, tied with raffia strings by hand according to the ancient customs and vacuum packed or proposed unpackaged, depending on client's requirements. By now, this product arrives on the tables of England, Germany, Canada and Japan, too.