Does the world need another truffled cheese? Probably not, in my estimation. Too often, these cheeses seem gimmicky to me, with a heavy-handed or artificial truffle scent and unremarkable cheese underneath. Oh, but wait. I think I’ve just found the star of your New Year’s Eve cheese tray.
Truf 3 Latti is one of the newest creations from Caseificio dell’Alta Langa, so of course I like it. This modern creamery in Italy’s Piedmont region produces only winners, and you’ve probably tried several: Robiola Bosina, Brunet, Rocchetta and the wildly popular La Tur are among my favorites.
As the name indicates, Truf 3 Latti is a mixed-milk cheese, with cow, goat and sheep milk blended in a ratio the creamery will not reveal. (“That’s a very important detail of the recipe,” the sales rep chided me when I asked.) It doesn’t matter. What I love is how seamlessly the milks blend; you can’t discern any one type.
Basically, Truf 3 Latti is the creamery’s Castelbelbo cheese with summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) and truffle aroma added. Summer truffle is less pungent than the prized winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum), and used alone, it didn’t convey enough scent.
A whole wheel weighs close to three pounds and ages at the creamery for about 20 days, just long enough to develop a light dusting of white mold on the surface. The semi-soft interior is the color of butter, with flecks of truffle and many small openings. I like truffles as much as the next person, but in cheese I want the scent subtle, so I can smell the cheese underneath. Alta Langa has nailed it. There’s enough of that earthy mushroom perfume to make your mouth water, but the lactic, sour-cream aroma of the cheese comes through.
Even more appealing to me is the texture. Truf 3 Latti is as tender as soft tofu, so delicate and light on the tongue. A bite just seems to vanish. At the next opportunity, I’m going to melt some on polenta.
Enjoy Truf 3 Latti with brut Champagne or a top California sparkling wine, or a Pinot Noir if you’re drinking red. In Northern California, look for it at Big John’s Market and Williamson Wines in Healdsburg; Mollie Stone’s in San Francisco and Sausalito; Nugget Market in El Dorado Hills, Roseville, Sacramento and Vacaville; Oxbow Cheese Merchant in Napa; and Sonoma Market in Sonoma.
I knew that lactose-intolerant people can’t drink much milk or eat unripened cheese, but I didn’t realize butter could be a problem, too. In fact, butter does contain a small amount of lactose—enough to spell trouble for some. Cultured butter typically contains less because the culture converts lactose to lactic acid. But it can still have trace amounts.
Just in time for holiday baking, Green Valley Organics has introduced America’s first certified-organic lactose-free butter. The process involves adding lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose) to the cream before it is pasteurized, cultured and churned. The butter is lightly salted and has a delicate sour-cream flavor. Butterfat content is 80 percent. You can use it any recipe without alteration, the company says; it behaves like conventional butter.
It’s harder right out of the fridge than Kerrygold—my everyday choice—but I do love its cultured taste. At $4.99 for a half-pound, Green Valley Organics won’t be the everyday butter for many. But if you’re severely lactose intolerant, it’s a problem solver. In Northern California, look for it at Berkeley Bowl, Mollie Stone’s, New Leaf Markets, Oliver’s, Rainbow Grocery, Safeway and Sprouts.