Roça – a land to be cultivated.
Upon arriving at Lano Alto you must fend off the local muts and follow the grassy path to the left of the wood workshop to an unassuming door. This is the cheese cave.
Upon entering you are met with a potent aroma of damp walls and aging cheese. As the water drips methodically from a soaking sheet before you (a humidity mechanism), you witness the fermenting archive of the products wrought by the hands of Lano Alto’s small team.
After having the privilege of working here for two months, I understand now what really constitutes as a small production, artisan cheese producer. There is such a close connection to the milk at every stage of production; you could point at a cheese and we could tell you how much milk came from one particular cow on the morning it was produced. For instance – ‘the batch of milk that made that cheese last Thursday was smaller than usual. The electricity was knocked out by a storm so we couldn’t cut the grass. One cow, Angel, wasn’t impressed by the hay she had to eat instead so we could only get 1 litre from her that day, as opposed to the 6 we usually get.’ Just another day at the office.
The cheese ages in Yentl and Peèle’s home for about three weeks before being moved to the more humid climate of the cave. There it is left to it’s own devices. Close tracking of each cheese is abandoned at this point. Instead, when the time comes to pick a cheese to sell or consume, they bring their hands to their hips, frown, scan their options, and pick out the one that just calls to them that day.