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Marzolino

a Tuscan sheep cheese

Made since the Renaissance, Marzolino derives its name from the month of March, when the sheep eat the best fresh herbs and grasses, the milking begins. Some use classic rennet, some use thistles that gives the cheese a unique taste; it's traditionally shaped into a flat round cylinder by hand.

There are several kinds: Marzolino Pecorino is white and mild and soft; Marzolino Rosso, where the rind is rubbed with olive oil and tomato paste is aged around 40 days. You can find it semistagionato (aged 40-60 days). Or there's Pecorino di Pienza Marzolino al Tartufo, embedded with black truffles (as in the picture above) or Marzolino di Pienza al Peperoncino with chilies.

A kind of white truffle, the tartufo marzolino ripens in March.

There is also a rare goat's milk cheese called marzalina, made in the months of March to May in the high mountains of Lazio, a cheese with a white paste, formed into logs, and usually served fresh.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by danafacaros