Beautiful Sardinia is located off the central Italian coast - with its sun-drenched beaches, gentle hills, and a smattering of mountains, every picture looks like a postcard. With such different terrain that changes with the seasons, it’s no wonder Sardinians took to sheep, and sheep took to Sardinia, being smaller and sturdier than cows. Sheep probably came to the island from Asia by way of North Africa about 3000 years ago, and evolved into the hearty Sarda breed that can survive anywhere from steep mountainsides to lowland pastures. Since sheep have had such a presence on Sardinia for so long, the island is known for the sheep’s milk cheeses that we have grown to love at the shop.
45% of Sardinian sheep’s milk goes towards Pecorino Romano, the salty, crumbly cheese that is now ubiquitous in this country. While we don’t carry Pecorino Romano at the shop, we have other Sardinian sheep’s milk cheeses that have similar characteristics, but vary in the details. Podda Misto, Granaresu, Moliterno al Tartufo, Soberanu, Selvaggio, and Su Entu are all from Sardinia and have been some of our favorite cheeses lately. Most are sheep’s milk (some are mixed milk and Selvaggio is an aged goat’s milk) that are firm, nutty, and taste like sweet dry hay. They are the kind of cheeses that you take one bite of, then another, because you’re not quite sure what you tasted the first time. Then another bite, because you've decided you really liked what you tasted the first time, and then suddenly poof! It’s all gone! I have a dream to take a big hunk of one of these cheeses on a sunny hike, and when I reach the top of the mountain, pull out my cheese and a wine flask and have a picnic. Perhaps someone will be strumming a guitar in the background and singing a beautiful love song in Italian, and then sweep me off my feet onto a snowy white horse and we ride into the sunset. Or maybe I just finish my picnic and, happily full of Sardinian cheese, walk into the sunset myself. Either way sounds pretty awesome to me.
For the love of cheese and Sarda sheep history,