Where Love Makes All Things Wonderful (Even Cheese)

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The pastures on the Tremezzina mountains are alive with wildflowers, the grass is at its most tender and the sky shines blue. With this enchanting backdrop, just steps from the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Davide and Cristina Zanotta lead their fifteen cows from the barn to the pasture

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A delightful couple, partners in love and in work, who produce heavenly fresh cheeses during the months of alpine grazing, everything from zincarlin and caprino to primo sale and the classic caciotta. The same cheese – simple yet timeless – that adds something special to our Executive Chef Osvaldo Presazzi’s cuisine. Zero-kilometer food full of flavor and nature’s goodness. It is a pleasure to work with a man and a woman who rediscovered the beauty of this landscape and choose to honor it by producing food in an ethical and traditional way.

Davide and Cristina founded the Zanotta dairy farm in 2000, both coming from very different careers that were a lot more present-day than pastoral. Until they gave into the desire to change their lives and find their true calling in nature. Davide’s grandfather was a farmer, “And whenever he served cheese, it was his cheese. This was our starting point, a desire to make (and eat!) authentic products whose supply chain we know intimately,” Cristina recalls. Everything hinges on the pasture, eleven hectares of land with meadows sloping gently down to the shore and rising on the slopes of Mount Crocione as high as 1,200 meters above sea level. “The taste of our cheese is a direct reflection of each season’s bounty,” Davide continues. “For instance, now, at the height of spring, our animals are eating wildflowers like gentian, heather, daisies or buttercups and medicinal herbs like thyme or génépy. It is this bouquet that gives the milk with its special flavor.”

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Another aspect that makes Zanotta cheeses completely unique is the way they are made. “We use raw, unpasteurized milk in our cheese, which allows us to preserve and enhance the characteristic organoleptic properties of the raw material.” Admittedly, there are not a lot of people today prepared to keep the schedule of these age-old rituals; Davide and Cristina’s days are positively anachronistic. They wake at 5:30 for the first milking and grab a quick breakfast, which Cristina explains, “consists of a cup of our milk, our own bread and butter along with jam from our blueberries.” Then they care for the animals, prepare the cheese, work in the fields in the afternoon and do the second milking in the evening until – at last! – it is time for dinner and a well-earned rest. The same routine every single day of the year, punctuated by Cristina’s daily deliveries to customers around the lake and trips to the Como farmer’s market, where she mans the Zanotta stall. The cheese is still warm when we taste it. With our eyes closed to really home in on the flavor, we pick up hints of the green and the blue, of the earth and the sky, that helped create this little masterpiece of Lake Como culinary tradition. Anyone interested in discovering a new take on one of Italy’s most famous dishes simply must try the chef’s contemporary take on Caprese at Grand Hotel Tremezzo: zincarlin fresh off the farm, sun-kissed tomatoes from our kitchen gardens, a pinch of salt and a few drops of Tremezzina olive oil. Perfectly simple, completely natural, utterly surprising.