In Assisi: Cheeses, Frescoes and Basilicas
This morning when I headed into the Caseificio Broccatelli to buy fresh ricotta, I mused that I might be living an “only-in-Italy” moment. Perhaps a hackneyed phrase but cheese shops aren’t usually right across the street from a majestic 16th-c Basilica. (Not to mention, a Basilica built over the site where St. Francis died in 1226).
And rare is a fresco on the wall of a cheese shop. But this IS Italy. Assisi most specifically. Santa Maria degli Angeli, una frazione of Assisi, to be even more specific. And so the pastoral scene (backdropped by Assisi) in a fresco by Mark Balma welcomes you as you enter:
The selling of cheeses started with Enrico Broccatelli in 1948 and the cheese production is still “all in the family.” We’ve been buying our cheeses there since we moved to the Assisi countryside in 1975.
Many a cooking class in our Assisi farmhouse starts with the shopping for cheeses – and tasting them! – here at this caseificio (“cheese factory”). One of my favorite pasta recipes, pasta ai quattro formaggi stars cheeses, four of them. I’ll probably soon do an alternative to the classic recipe with a combination of some of the cheeses I bought today.
Ricotta was one of them – and the reason for my foray to the caseificio: I was out and have it almost every morning on toasted wheat bread with chestnut honey. Buonissimo. Young Matteo cut me a generous slice:
Next time for the mozzarella. I now had my “four cheeses” for a new version of pasta ai quattro formaggi and this one would be with all cheeses from the Caseificio Broccatelli. Well, with one exception: I’ll need Parmesan, too. But logicamente, that can only be from Parma….and not from the Umbrian caseificio across the road from the 16th-c Basilica.