Il “Provolone del Monaco DOP”
The production of “Provolone del Monaco” interests the province of Naples, in particular the lower areas of the Sorrentino Peninsula and the territory of the Lattari Mountains, including the town of Agerola. It’s a cheese with a hazelnut or reddish crust with a semi hard and compact pulp with a smell and taste typical of milk and hay. Provolone del Monaco is produced with exceptional quality milk, produced by the Agerola cow, originated by the union of three races: Agerola cow does not produce a lot but it produced a very high quality milk. This race was created in the middle of the XIX century in Agerola, when the Bourbons were attempting to improve the Campania bovine races by importing animals of different race. In Agerola, maybe because more isolated, the genetic features stuck better, and the milk produced by this species has a very high quality and is used to produce provolone del Monaco and fior di latter of Agerola. The most believable thesis on the origin of the name provolone del “Monaco” refers to the fact that the cheese makers would disembark at dawn in the port of Naples with their load of provolone from the various towns of the Sorrento peninsula, and to protect themselves from cold and humidity they would cover up with a mantel that was similar to the clothes monks wear. The production technique of this cheese is very ancient and labour intensive: the raw milk of every single or at the most every two milkings is worked and mixed with kid curd. The curd obtained from the coagulation of the raw milk is cut in small lumps, using a wood utensil called “Sassa”, after it is scorched and kneaded. The kneading is labor intensive, and sometimes to persons are needed to turn the curd. When the pulp has reached the desired consistency it is shaped into a pear or a cylinder. It is brined, dried and aged in cellars for 4 to 18 months. The pastures of the Lattari Mountains and the aging place confer this cheese a unique aroma, the more is it aged the more it is enhanced.