Monday, May 10, 2010

May Is Mascarpone Month

Paula Lambert is one of my favorite Dallas food people, while she's been friends to the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters, her passion remains the Dallas food scene and she spends many hours giving back to our community.   I'll admit, she's been a long time friend, I remember having dinner at her dining room table when I was 28 years old.  I'm not sure of her exact age then, but I think she was only like 28-and-a-half at the time.

And then there's her cheeses, which are superb enough on their own merits for anyone to want to love this genteel, gracious, Fort Worth native.  One of my favorite sold at her Mozzarella Company (down on Elm in Deep Ellum - store hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-3pm) is their Pecan Praline Mascarpone Torta.  I've stopped counting the number of parties I've attended and brought a plate of this cheese encircled by gingersnaps.   It's a sell out every time.

So when I opened our monthly statement from Paula Lambert's company and read her May newsletter (available via email, IJS), it was a reminder to stop by and purchase some more when I'm down at the Farmers Market on Wednesday.   And when I finish writing this, I plan to "Like" The Mozzarella Company on their facebook fan page.   According to Paula,
Mascarpone is not actually a cheese.  It is a clotted cream.  In Italy, Mascarpone and other fresh cheeses such as ricotta are known as laticini (little milk products) rather than cheeses.  Mascarpone is very rich.  It is classified as a triple creme meaning that its butterfat is higher than 72%.  It has a creamy, thick and velvety texture.  It has the taste of cooked cream with a very, very faint hint of tartness.

We make our Mascarpone by heating cream in a bain marie.  Once the temperature of the cream is about 200 [degrees] F we add an acid that causes the cream to curdle.  After a few moments, we carefully and delicately ladle the curds into a cloth to drain overnight in a very cool place.  The next morning we have Mascarpone.  In Italy Mascarpone is typically used in desserts such as Tiramisu.  It can also be sweetened with sugar or honey to serve with other desserts or added to savory sauces.  Alone it can be melted on pasta for the ultimate cream sauce.  And it is great on scones.
But besides the news of Mascarpone Month, there's all kinds of things going on with the Mozzarella Company this week.  Tomorrow night at 8 pm (and again at 11 pm) you can watch Chefs vs. City, All Star Dallas, where the teams compete at Mozzarella headquarters.   Then Thursday, Paula is the featured producer talking to kids about food down at Dallas Farmers Market for the Days of Taste program sponsored by the D/FW Chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.   Cheese is one of those things kids know generally from the hard white stuff on their frozen pizza or the melted goo mixed in their EasyMac.   Who would think that cheese can be sweet, and like a dessert?  I hope they get to taste a little of my personal favorite.

And Saturday, the 15th, the Mozzarella Company is participating in the Fort Worth Herb Festival from 9 am to 3 pm at the Botanical Gardens.  Darn, they are not having an Herb Salad Dressing Contest - because I have a "runner up" recipe if they were.

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