Cheddar (Fiscalini Cloth Wrapped)
Fiscalini Farms is located near Modesto, in California's Central Valley. The Fiscalini family, along with cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez, produce a small range of farmstead cow's milk cheeses, including a traditional, cloth wrapped, English-style cheddar, and San Joaquin Gold, which is another aged cheese made to their own recipe.
Fiscalini is relatively large-scale in terms of its herd size, although not all the milk is used for cheese production. The farm is home to some 3,000 Holstein cows, of which 1,500 are milked. The remainder are heifers (youngsters) waiting to join the main herd. Cows are housed in, and roam freely around well-ventilated barns that are designed to catch cross breezes. The cows stand on thick, rubber floor mats that are softer on the their legs, and create a buffer between the animals' feet and the concrete floor. They are fed a total mixed ration (TMR) of various grains and hay rather than feeding on pasture.
John Fiscalini and his staff pay a great deal of attention to the welfare of their cows, which results in good quality milk.
Mariano was formerly head cheesemaker at Shelburne Farms, and developed his first cloth wrapped cheddar there. Now in Modesto, Mariano makes his raw milk cheddars using traditional methods, and ages them for at least 16 months before they are released in limited quantities.
Cheese production takes place five days a week, using around 1,000 gallons of milk for each batch.
The texture of Fiscalini cloth wrapped cheddar is close and smooth, with a slightly brittle texture reminiscent of a traditional, English-style cheddar.
Flavors are rich and complex with savory, buttery notes of earth, fruit and toast.