Luca Mignogna, owner and head cheesemaker of Wolf Meadow Farm, has had his hands in the milk since he was a teenager. He first learned to make cheese a pasta filata with old Mastri Casari and his grandfather at their farm near Campobasso, in Molise County, and then worked with master cheese makers at the nearby caseificio in Campobasso and Carovilli, at Caseificio Santo Stefano di Roberto D’Andrea.
Wolf Meadow’s cows’ milk is bought from nearby Artichoke Dairy in West Newbury, MA. The quality of the milk is important, and the way the animals are treated is fundamental for the quality. Bruce Colby at Artichoke Dairy is an old-style farmer who carefully tends his herd.
Today, Luca’s favorite part of cheesemaking is getting ready for stretching. He loves “making sure that every single step is done correctly so that the stretching can happen in the best way possible.” Luca hopes he can pass his techniques and traditions on to the next generation, to continue making those products that have been refined over time. “We can enjoy the beauty of a glass of milk becoming a ball of mozzarella in 8 hours and keep the freshness of the milk, the juiciness of the milk, the texture of the milk… You know, it’s just beautiful.”
Why is Luca making the kinds of cheeses he makes? “Because this is the type of traditional cheese from where I’m from,” he says. “The point is that when people are thinking about cheese making they assume that you can do any type of cheese. It is true AND false, in terms that anybody can do anything, just reading a recipe and following instruction. But in cheese making,” Luca explains, “it’s not just about that.”
Luca says this beautifully: “Cheesemaking to me is about tradition, it’s about little secrets, little details that make your product completely unique. The deeper knowledge that I have is related to the style of cheese that I do. I mean I can do asiago, I can try to make parmigiano, but it will never be as original as the cheese that I make because I’ve been making these cheeses since I was a little kid. It’s always challenging to understand how the milk speaks to me to get the best cheese possible.”
All of Luca’s cheeses are made from pasteurized milk, and they include:
- Mozzarella, classic and traditional
- Ricotta, delicate fresh cheese
- Caciocavallo, “Cheese on Horseback,” aged from two months to two years
- Caciotta, aged between one and six months
- Scamorza, an aged mozzarella, hang-dried
- Primo Sale, very young cheese
Wolf Meadow Farm and its store is open to the public Tues-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.