Summer is coming to an end, rain is starting to pour… and the Delights are leaving again, looking for new excellences!
This time we didn’t go far from home: our trip took us in the middle of the Romagnol countryside, in order to discover the King of our cheeses, the squacquerone, and its “colleagues” fresh cheeses.
Our destination? Mambelli Dairy, located in a small plant in Bertinoro. When we got there, we have been welcomed by Raffaella, a smiling woman with bright eyes, who runs the family company with her sister Federica.
The activity began in the fifties, when Raffaella and Federica’s grandmother started making ricotta cheese – in order to use all of the milk that the family had and didn’t need – and started selling it at the market. Her son, then, broadened the sphere of activity selling also to the wholesalers in Cesena and giving birth to the first real dairy laboratory, for which he personally built part of the machinery that wasn’t commercially available at that time. Raffaella, who had totally different ideas about what to do with her life, actually started working in the family business: her father taught her the trade, she became very fond of the job and never left the company – on the contrary, with her little sister (who later started working there herself), made it and still makes it grow.
The market leader of this dairy is squacquerone, the Romagnol cheese par excellence, traditionally served with piadina bread and rocket, whose cradle resides just between the provinces of Ravenna and Cesena.
Very fresh cheese – it reaches its ideal seasoning in 6/7 days – it’s made with whole milk, rennet, milk enzymes (made in the dairy itself) and salt. In particular, Mambelli’s squacquerone comes in two different varieties: one with quarry salt and the other one with salt that comes from Cervia’s saltpans. This one was chosen in order to promote and increase the value of the excellences of our region – which is a thing that lies at the heart of the Mambelli sisters.
Squacquerone is made by mixing all the ingredients in big “crib tanks”, inside of which the cheese is cut into cubes of about 2.5 cm per side, before being touched by the dairyman – who needs to evaluate the consistency – and then poured as a waterfall inside the moulds. These are finally piled up and put to rest in refrigerating rooms, so that the cheese cubes can get compacted and give to the squacquerone cheese its typical soft and creamy consistency.
This cheese has recently obtained the PDO certification, thanks to which a pillar of Romagnol food tradition, that needs to be made with a series of exact criteria, can be protected and not perverted.
Another strong point of Mambelli Dairy is ricotta cheese: made with whole milk and water coming from Fratta thermal baths, it’s produced in different formats – the newcomer is a small 90 grams heart, a concentrate of flavour and creaminess.
In order to make ricotta cheese, the milk is put into huge 10-quintal-capacious cauldrons and brought to a temperature of about 80 Celsius degrees, then thermal water is added. After very few minutes, the milk starts to curdle and the resulting product is manually transferred into the moulds using colanders. The curd that first emerges on the surface, softer and lighter, is used to make the heart-shaped ricotta cheeses; after them, they move to the more capacious moulds, that need to be filled with a more thick product.
All of the Mambelli cheeses are made without using additives or preservatives: they perfectly keep undiminished the traditional authenticity, even though they’re made with highly modern technologies. The dairy is indeed equipped with a laboratory, where a sample of every batch of milk is analyzed with the purpose of studying its properties and, depending on these, of understanding how to adapt the processing in order to obtain products with qualities as homogeneous as possible. Thing that, as Raffaella explains, is really complex when you make very fresh cheeses – contrary to what people could think.
Their series of products, in addition to squacquerone and ricotta cheese, includes casatella, stracchino, ravigiolo, primosale and caciotta, often characterized by imaginative and intriguing names, and some Loverie – that are sweet and glutton matchings with Mambelli’s ricotta cheese.
So, the fresh cheese lovers are spoilt for choice… do you want to try the real squacquerone cheese, good as only the authentic one can be and of a quality that you could hardly find somewhere else? So come by La Delizia shop in Russi (Ravenna), you can find it there and let yourself be tempted by the flavour of tradition!