I've always enjoyed hearing the sheep, their bells tinkling, as they are brought early evening to graze amongst the olives and happy, if a little wary, to see the large white sheepdogs that accompany them. This year the shepherd has been bringing his large flock to the olive groves immediately above us, I spoke to him briefly one evening telling him his animals were beautifully, to which he agreed. Then one night two of the six dogs were on our drive, I like to think guarding my geraniums and other pots of flowers at the back door because the sheep were down on our road with the shepherd. We asked him where he lived, not far away, and if he kept the sheep for milk which he did. He said he made ricotta and sold it on Saturdays to our neighbour Anna, I said I would speak to her about it as I was interested.
On Saturday morning I saw a vehicle down at Anna's and then a car horn outside our house with shouts of ricotta. We went out and I bought a beautiful mound of soft snowy white ricotta, which I'm usually not that keen on. Then the man asked if we'd like some cheese and showed us huge wheels of pecorino and smaller ones of a soft salty cheese. I ended up with about 1.5 kilo of pecorino a staginato, a firm salty and slightly open textured cheese. Both our purchased are completely delicious, the ricotta really needs to be eaten straight away, it was wonderful that evening after dinner with peaches but is became a little tasteless and was finished off on bread with jam for breakfast. We have give away slabs of the pecorino and eaten lots ourselves, it is so delicious, and everything was exceptional value, delivery included.
The shepherd is coming back this Saturday and we shall buy more, fresh local produce, about one food mile involved and we know the sheep personally, what could be better. I plan to give the man some of the cheddar we brought from home, most of our Italian friends love it and we've given lots away, mass produced mousetrap, I wonder what he will make of it.