A Different Curd

Cedar Grove's fresh water buffalo mozzarella

An Israeli immigrant, a local cheesemaker and a herd of testy water buffalo–this is the unlikely trio behind one of Wisconsin's newest, most unusual cheeses: Cedar Grove's fresh water buffalo mozzarella.

The collaboration began earlier this year, when Dubi Ayalon finally began to coax milk from the pack of water buffalo he's spent three years gathering at a farm conveniently located one mile from the Cedar Grove cheese plant.

Cheesemaker Bob Willis perfected his Italian-style fresh buffalo's-milk mozzarella throughout the summer: heating and stretching the elastic curds; rolling them into balls of luxuriously soft, creamy cheese; and brining them in lightly salted water.

Buffalo milk's high butterfat content makes for milky, silky cheese. And because of the proximity of the herd to the cheesemaker, and the cheesemaker to Chicago, the time from the buffalo to the package to the table can be mere days–making for a cheese that far exceeds the freshness of imported mozzarella di bufala.

For now, it's only available via mail order in half-pound balls (around $7 each), or in semi-dry wedges cut from a round, unbrined wheel.

Ayalon is winding up the milking for the season, so order soon or you'll be out of luck until next spring.