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You are here: Home Leisure Dining & Cuisine Italian mountaineers cut the cheese in Thailand
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11/04/2008Italian mountaineers cut the cheese in Thailand

Italian mountaineers cut the cheese in Thailand In our weekend lifestyle section, Peter Janssen goes on a mozzarella trail and discovers how buffalo in Thailand and Italy produce different milk.

How does a former ski resort employee from the mountainous region of Trentino in northern Italy end up making mozzarella cheese in Thailand's Hua Hin beach resort?

"Just fate," said Max Mazzalai, the 42-year-old founder of Del Casaro Thailand Company, proud producer of mozzarella, ricotta, Italico, mascarpone and scamorza cheeses.

Eleven years ago Mazzalai visited Thailand's Samui island beach resort as a tourist.

"I came for a holiday but saw there was a lot of potential to make cheese because there were many Italian, French and German restaurants on the island," recalled Mazzalai.

In Trentino, Mazzalai had worked at ski resorts during the winter months and helped raising dairy cows and make cheeses in the summer months.

At least his cheese-making talents proved exportable to tropical Thailand, where mass tourism and a resulting explosion of Italian restaurants over the past two decades has created a domestic market for mozzarella, the main ingredient for pizza, and other cooking cheeses such as ricotta.

By December 1, 1997, after a quick trip home to buy equipment, Mazzalai was the first mozzarella maker of Samui.

In 2000, Mazzalai shifted his cheese factory to Hua Hin, another resort town, and brought in Eddy Uber, 37, (also from Trentino) and Thai national Veda Balabkura as business partners.

Del Casaro is now one of Thailand's leading suppliers of mozzarella cheese to hotels and restaurants in popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Samui, Phuket, Phangnga and Tao island.

The small cheese factory, on the outskirts of Hua Hin town, will finish its first major expansion within four months, after which it may be able to open a souvenir shop selling cheeses to visiting tourists, said Uber.

Del Casaro takes pride in following traditional Italian cheese-making methods and producing high-quality items, capable of competing with imported Italian cheeses.

"Many chefs like to use our cheese because they say it is good quality and fresh," said Uber.

Del Casaro is not the only mozzarella maker in Thailand.

Minor Group, the owner of The Pizza Company restaurant chain, has been making its own mozzarella for more than a decade, and at least three other companies are in the mozzarella business including Murrah Dairy Farm which four months ago launched Thailand's first buffalo mozzarella.

Italy's most famous mozzarella, from the Campania area in the south, is made with water buffalo milk. Legend has it that the water buffalos were imported from India more than 500 years ago and cross bred with African buffalos to create a creature well-suited to the hot and swampy Campania region.

There is little doubt that buffalo milk makes a better mozzarella. It has twice as much fat as regular cow milk.

Unfortunately, the milk of the average Thai water buffalo, used for field labour rather than milking, is inferior to its Campania cousins.

That may change soon, if the Murrah Dairy Farm example takes off.

Murrah Dairy Farm in Chachongsao province on Thailand's eastern seaboard has successfully artificially inseminated Thai water buffalos with Murrah buffalo sperm from Bulgaria, and now have a buffalo herd producing 150 litres of milk per day.

The buffalo milk, primarily sold to Thai-Muslims of Indian origin, is also being used to make mozzarella cheese, targeting hotels and restaurants in Bangkok.

"We just opened a shop in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 112, Mu Baan Samarkorn, in Bangkok," said Charinee Chaiyochlarb, the farm's marketing manager, who last year spent two months at a mozzarella factory in Campania to learn how to manufacture the precious cheese.

The farm's buffalo mozzarella sells at 650 baht (20.60 dollars) per kilogram, considerably less than the 1,000 baht (31.75 dollars) per kilo for the imported Italian variety.

Del Casaro in Hua Hin was originally interested in using the Murrah Dairy Farm buffalo milk to produce its own mozzarella, but decided against it because the milk would spoil en route to Hua Hin (a good five hour drive).

Of course, Del Casaro could substitute using cow's milk by starting their own Murrah buffalo farm in Hua Hin, and fulfill Mazzalai's dream of exporting mozzarella back to Italy.

But Mazzalai has some reservations.

"No, no," he said to starting a buffalo dairy farm. "When I came to Thailand I came for a better life. So if I have to work 15 hours a day I'm back to where I came from."

dpa 

expatica April 2008



7 reactions to this article

Gina Graham posted: 2008-10-04 10:57:05

I am a cheese maker travellong to Phuket on 12/10/08 and would love to visit your factory.

ROBERT HEATH posted: 2008-12-03 05:07:36

Could i please have your address in Hua Hin as i have a small pizza restaurant in Bangkok.I also know of someone in Chang Mai who is looking for a supplier of cheese as well.
Thank You

Yogi Dairy posted: 2009-03-24 07:13:26

we recently opened home made cheese factory in Bangkok. we produce, feta cheese, cream cheese, quark cheese 5% and fresh creamy yogurt with fruit. all made with natural ingredients,no preservatives, no strach or milk powder all Natural!
bangkokdairy@gmail.com

HomeMade-Cheese Co. posted: 2009-05-08 11:07:51

New place to buy fresh cheese in Bangkok, Thailand

They make delivery anywhere in bangkok and make very nice cheese

www.homemade-cheese.com

Tony posted: 2009-08-08 18:00:35

Now with Del casero making Buffelo milk cheese and italian cheese. and HomeMade-Cheese Co.
making all the white/Medeast cheese, we only need a god quality yellow cheese maker for good price and maybe we will have cheese for normal price.

Adina posted: 2010-02-06 20:06:36

HomeMade-Cheese Co. are great.

I just go to their website: www.homemade-cheese.com and email them what i want and the next day i get a phone and asked when is good time to deliver

cameron rowan posted: 2012-04-10 10:39:13

Hello im a traveling cheese maker from Australia, and im writing for a cheese magazine in Australia, i would love to come out and do my first artucle on your company, im in koh samui at the moment and would love to pop up in a day or so? i really hope ths is ok with you and we can have a good chat about cheese. hope to hear from you soon Cameron Rowan

7 reactions to this article

Gina Graham posted: 2008-10-04 10:57:05

I am a cheese maker travellong to Phuket on 12/10/08 and would love to visit your factory.

ROBERT HEATH posted: 2008-12-03 05:07:36

Could i please have your address in Hua Hin as i have a small pizza restaurant in Bangkok.I also know of someone in Chang Mai who is looking for a supplier of cheese as well.
Thank You

Yogi Dairy posted: 2009-03-24 07:13:26

we recently opened home made cheese factory in Bangkok. we produce, feta cheese, cream cheese, quark cheese 5% and fresh creamy yogurt with fruit. all made with natural ingredients,no preservatives, no strach or milk powder all Natural!
bangkokdairy@gmail.com

HomeMade-Cheese Co. posted: 2009-05-08 11:07:51

New place to buy fresh cheese in Bangkok, Thailand

They make delivery anywhere in bangkok and make very nice cheese

www.homemade-cheese.com

Tony posted: 2009-08-08 18:00:35

Now with Del casero making Buffelo milk cheese and italian cheese. and HomeMade-Cheese Co.
making all the white/Medeast cheese, we only need a god quality yellow cheese maker for good price and maybe we will have cheese for normal price.

Adina posted: 2010-02-06 20:06:36

HomeMade-Cheese Co. are great.

I just go to their website: www.homemade-cheese.com and email them what i want and the next day i get a phone and asked when is good time to deliver

cameron rowan posted: 2012-04-10 10:39:13

Hello im a traveling cheese maker from Australia, and im writing for a cheese magazine in Australia, i would love to come out and do my first artucle on your company, im in koh samui at the moment and would love to pop up in a day or so? i really hope ths is ok with you and we can have a good chat about cheese. hope to hear from you soon Cameron Rowan

 
 
 
 
 
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