The Spilling the Beans section in each issue of Edible Boston highlights up and coming local producers. We often get to catch up with some of our favorites to see how they're doing today, and we thought you'd like to know, too! Back in the spring of 2008 we talked to Lourdes Smith, owner of Fiore di Nonno, about her handcrafted small-batch mozzarella, inspired by the traditional craft of her Italian grandfather (pictured above). We're happy to report that Smith's business is doing better than ever, working with other local food artisans like Dave's Fresh Pasta and Clear Flour Bread.
From Lourdes, in her own words: “Back when the article was written, I was still at Nuestra Culinary Ventures, now called Crop Circle Kitchen. I currently rent a space in an industrial building in Somerville and built out my own kitchen with the money I had made from the farmers markets.
I am also now sourcing my milk locally. I worked with Karl Santos of Shy Brothers Farm in Westport on a mozzarella curd recipe based on an old recipe of my grandfather's. We don't use starters or flavor enhancers, just the fresh milk, vinegar, and vegetarian rennet. I also use milk from Shaw Farm in Dracut.
My burrata line is mascarpone, fig, za'atar and labne, roasted garlic and onion, chili and lavender-infused honey, and the traditional with stracciatella. I entered my first American Cheese Society competition in 2011 and my stracciatella won its category for fresh, un-ripened cows-milk cheese!
We have done an orange burrata and an olive oil-filled burrata. I make Armenian-style string cheese with nigella seeds, as well as with chili flakes. I most recently began working on a Northern Italian farmer’s cheese. We like it so much as compared to the original from Italy that I've stop aiming for the Italian version and have decided to call it a Fiore di Nonno original; it is yet to be named.
I've been doing some work with kids’ programs, including Kids Cooking Green, Camp Chop Chop at Harvard (I got to meet the White House Pastry Chef and make string cheese with him!), and have done a bit of work with Future Chefs.
In the end, some things haven't changed. Everything is still made by hand in small batches using the same method my grandfather and great-grandfather used. I've been able to train and teach some talented young women as cheese makers, so I am no longer the sole worker bee. I've learned so much more about my product! I like to say that for the last 6 years, I've had my head in the bowl trying to make the best cheese I can and a business built up around me. Now I am transitioning to running a business that strives to make the best cheese we can and be the caretakers of a generational tradition that's been happening in my family for over 100 years.”
Fiore di Nonno's creamy burrata cheese is nothing short of delicious, and now is the perfect time to give it a try with spring favorites like shaved asparagus or stone fruit preserves. Click here for a list of stores, restaurants, and farmers markets where you can find this treat.