Joe's Dairy, located on Sullivan Street in Manhattan, New York been renowned for production of fresh and smoked cow's milk mozzarella for many decades.
In 1977 the original "Joe" sold the store and dairy to seventeen year old Anthony Campenelli, who literally lived next door. It had been Anthony's dream to own the business and he, together with his brother Vincent and other members of the family, still operate it.
The base mozzarella curd is sourced from Buffalo, New York and processed in the tiny room behind the store front. Mozzarella is made throughout the day and sold almost as rapidly as they are made. A proportion of the cheeses are set aside for smoking, which also happens on site.
For production, the base slabs of mozzarella curd are first shredded by hand before being transferred to a very large stockpot-type pan on the stove. Hot water is added to soften the curd which then knits together as one very stretchy unit.
At this point, the curd needs to be continually worked and stretched, chunks being broken off and placed in an open mold to "cure". After a few minutes, they are removed, worked and stretched again, this time with smaller balls being broken off. The stretching of the curd is skilled work, essential to producing the delicate layered texture of the cheese while retaining the moisture.
Finally the balls are allowed to soak in water or a light brine solution. The mozzarella that's set aside for smoking is briefly drained before being placed in the smoker. The smoking process takes place over hickory wood and lasts a mere four minutes.
Joe’s Dairy Fresh Mozzarella is wonderfully milky tasting with a moist, light, slightly fluffy texture. The smoked version has a pale brown interior encasing a bright white paste.
The texture of the smoked cheese is a little more dense than the fresh balls and has a delicate flavor of campfire smoke near the outside that doesn’t overwhelm the lactic and gently salty notes. For best effect, eat on day of purchase at room temperature.