There is nothing like having someone come over to the house when the wind is whipping against the outside walls with an impressive effort particular to a wolf determined to eat, and start to make some cheese. At first we thought we might just start a fire in the dining room, but we moved to the wood burning stove in the kitchen instead and started to heat up great vats of sheeps milk. As it came to a lovely simmer, filling the kitchen with a wet, warm heat and fragrance, the cheesemaker made the sign of the cross, and began to move his arm, up to the elbow, through the liquid in search of curd. It was pressed into its disc like form, covered with sea salt on the top and on the bottom, and then immediately drained. We were instructed to turn it once daily for at least a month. For the ricotta, he used the whey, waiting one more time for the water to simmer, and when a third flower bloomed along the surface, the new curds were lifted out in slices and packed into baskets, left to drain for the night. We were instructed to have it with warm bread and honey from the cheesemaker’s bees, as soon as we rose from our beds. Before he left, he poured the water into a basin, big enough for 10 feet at a time, and the ladies removed all socks and shoes and boots and dipped their toes, then plunged mid calf into a skin softening, nerve soothing sheep spa.
While they soaked, I ran up the stairs to theÂ living room, the only spare fire in the house, to grill the pork chops.Â We had them with a pappa al pomodoro, and a salad of arugula, bits of new organges, paper thin slices of red onion from Tropea, fresh fennel, and a dressing of olive oil and lemon and salt.