Fresh Mozzarella (Chapel Hill)
Eponymously named Chapel Hill Creamery is located near Chapel Hill in North Carolina and is home to Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley together with their small herd of Jersey cows.
Hawley and McKnight had each enjoyed long careers at Whole Foods Market and decided they wanted to get closer to the source of the food that they had sold. In the process of searching for a good milk source in order to begin making cheese, they found that they were unable to get the quality that they wanted. So, the decision was made to buy a small herd of Jersey cows and a 37-acre farm to ensure that the cows could be pasture-fed. Thus was born Chapel Hill Creamery and, in July of 2000, the first batch of cheese was produced.
Today, Portia and Flo focus on the health of their herd of 30 cows as much as the quality of the cheese that they produce. Rotational grazing is practiced on the farm and they limit milking to March through December. The results are hard to argue with, three World Jersey Cheese Awards in 2012.
Chapel Hill’s Fresh Mozzarella is made from the pasteurized milk of Jersey cows. Each oval of cheese is formed by pulling the curds, a method that is rather like stretching pizza dough until it is able to mold into an spherical shape. The color is butter yellow, a result of Chapel Hill’s cows grazing on grass. This Mozzarella’s flavor is clean and lactic. The texture is toothsome, but more delicate than expected from the sturdy cheese typically used on pizzas.
Pair this cheese with a light, dry white wine such as Pinot Gris. Fresh Mozzarella can be used in a number of ways, including a classic Caprese Salad or sliced thinly to top a pizza.