Casa Del Formaggio Gives You a Taste of Italy with Philippine-Made Cheese from the Negros RegionAugust 28, 2017
Run by couple Isabelle Montalibano-Patron and Francesco Patron is Casa Del Formaggio, a Philippine-based company that uses local dairy to create Italian-style cheese (that “gives homage to my husbands roots,” says Isabelle). While Isabelle explains that her husband, being from Venice, does not have a personal background in the making of Italian cheese, it is through a shared love for the dairy product (a table-staple in their household) that they learned the skills necessary to create quality cheese products that are “proudly . . . Negros-made,” referring to the region in Visayas where she is from.
“I love the idea of creating something from the simple milk,” Isabelle tells us. ” . . . to have it develop to different distinct flavors as cheese ages.” Yet as simple as it sounds, the process of creating these different types of cheese in the a country that does not have a strong cheese culture did not come easy.
“We had no local cheesemaking to study on. What was available was in its early stages and unreliable, with unstable results. With our hot or rainy climate, raising or having the correct mix breed, and a good feeding program, has been an ongoing trial. Even with the extensive research we did, each milk is different, so results vary each time we’d test. So what we have learned from outside sometimes do not apply in the Philippines.”
Outside the cheesemaking process, caring for the cows that produce the milk they use is in itself a cumbersome task, as Isabelle tells us “the cows’ stress levels, from its food to weather, impact the quality of milk . . .” Cheesemaking has taught her not only the value of perseverance, but the importance adaptability plays in this business. “Nothing seems constant . . . You have to be willing to make slight changes every time the milk changes too.”
Making cheese for Casa Del Formaggio continues to be a process for them as they continue to do research on making their products better, and explore other aging processes, styles, and flavor options. “Cheesemaking . . . definitely . . . needs someone’s passion, time and patience,” says Isabelle. But as Isabelle feels they are artisans that proudly represent the Negros region, the challenge is something the couple nobly accept.
CASA DEL FORMAGGIO
Creates Italian-style cheese using local milk.