Lou Bergier Pichin is semi-hard, earthy, buttery and… vegetarian. You might be thinking, “wait- isn’t all cheese vegetarian?” or, “isn’t cheese just old milk?” And yes, it’s mostly milk, but there are a few other key ingredients that aid in the cheesemaking process- salt, cultures, and rennet. Traditional animal rennet is derived from the lining of the fourth stomach of a young ruminant animal, such as a kid or calf. The key enzyme in rennet, chymosin, helps to form the curds and to separate them from the whey, and it is this same enzyme that helps these baby animals to digest their mother’s milk. Long story short, many cheeses are not vegetarian (not to mention the lard rub-down Parmigiano Reggiano and some clothbound cheeses get…) Too many rennets, too little time- we’ll have to delve deeper into different rennets in a separate post.
Anyways, Lou Bergier Pichin! One of my favorite cheeses and an excellent example of terroir. This cheese is all about the milk, the mountains, the grass, the cows, and thistle flowers! It’s made using a process Fattorie Fiandino has dubbed the “Kinara Method,” which relies on wild mountain thistle flowers as the coagulant. Lou Bergier Pichin is made in Piedmont with raw cow’s milk, and is cultured with milk from the previous day (just like Parmigiano). It’s a toma-style, yet soft, delicate and without the barnyard. It is also made with whole Sicilian sea salt from the Culcasi family which is harvested by hand. That means chock full o’ minerals!
Listen, there’s too much to say about this awesome cheese. You should just come in and try it. (Jaw-dropping price of $16/lb!!!)