Columella's Caciofiore can be considered a sort of "ancestor" of the Roman pecorino cheese, prepared with rennet based on cardoon. Columella talks about this cheese in his treatise "De Rustica": "It is better to curdle the milk with lamb or kid rennet, although it is also possible to curdle it with the cardoon flower or with safflower seeds or fig latex. Anyway, the best cheese is made with as less treatment as possible". (Lucio Giunio Moderato Columella, "De Rustica", 50 AD). Today, in the Roman Countryside, "native country" of the cardoon and the artichoke, some producers still use the cardoon flower as rennet and prepare raw milk pecorino cheese with an ancient taste.
Columella's Caciofiore, produced in Decima Malafede Nature Reserve (RomaNatura), has a small size and is produced with whole and fresh sheep's milk. Since it is not pasteurized, it maintains intact the milk features. Moreover, its characteristic perfume is given to the cardoon used to prepare it. A yellow rind preserves a soft-texture cheese with an intense taste, not salted and slightly bitter. You can smell an aroma of wet straw and cooked vegetables; it melts in the mouth and has an astringent and pungent aftertaste.
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