The Mystic Cheese Company was dreamed up by Brian Civitello, and was joined in making it a reality by an alumnus of the Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge cheese counter and current cheese shop owner – Jason Sobocinski. Brian has made cheese professionally for the past 12 years, both in Italy as well as the United States, working for companies on the West (Rogue Creamery) and East (Calabro Cheese) coasts. The concept for Mystic Cheese Co., established in 2013, grew out of his experiences as a consultant for small family farms throughout the country. The goal: to assist American artisan cheese makers develop businesses by providing the infrastructure to begin a successful cheesemaking operation.
Brian has developed what he calls a “cheese pod.” The pod is a re-purposed shipping container that has been retrofitted to become an efficient, streamlined cheese production space that meets industry standards for food safety in an affordable, mobile space. Within the pod is a pasteurizer, all cheesemaking vats and supplies, as well as a small aging room. It is perfectly designed for the manufacture and sale of fresh cheeses, which need little time to develop. Each iteration of the pod will be designed with the manufacture of a different type of cheese in mind. Mystic Cheese Co. is looking to open a brick and mortar aging and retail space in Mystic, Connecticut in the near future.
Melville was the first cheese that Brian made in the pod – production began in November, 2013. Its name is an homage to the whaling history of Connecticut, and a nod to the great American writer Herman Melville and his whale of a tome Moby Dick. The pod in which Melville is produced is, for the time being, parked on Gray Wall Family Farm, in Lebanon, CT. The farm and pod have a mutually beneficial relationship: the pod has a location to park and one that has a consistent supply of fresh, warm milk. The farm, in turn, receives income from both the rent paid by the pod (or the pod’s owners), as well as from the sale of milk to make the cheese.
Melville is a fresh, rindless cow milk cheese. It is aged for seven days before being delivered to us here at Formaggio Kitchen. The recipe is modeled after a cheese typical of the Lombardy, Veneto, and Piedmont, regions of Italy – a cheese called Crescenza-Stracchino, or simply, Stracchino. Historically, the cheese was made only during the winter and autumn months, after the cows descended from the mountains at the end of the summer. The cows, tired (or “stracca” in Italian), produced milk higher in butterfat and the cooler temperatures provided an optimal environment for the development of the cheese. Soft, smooth, milky, mild, sweet and buttery with notes of warmed cream and toast, it is evocative of fresh cheese curds. This cheese is a great melter and would be a perfect choice for an omelet, pizza, grilled cheese. Also wonderful on its own for breakfast!
Sarah Spira is the domestic cheese buyer and a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.