"Be what may, my daughters have to do this job, since it must not be lost." - Vincenzo Evola
There are simple things, which seem small, but are capable of turning out to be incredibly large. This is case of those who, every day, with their backs straight and heads held high, produce a specific type of cheese that is on the verge of extinction: Cinisensi cow's cheese.
The Cinisensi Cow owes its name both to Cinisi, the small town close to Falcone Borsellino Airport, where they are particularly common, and the Arabic "ginisi", a type of coal produced in the mountains of Palermo, one of the many things that proves that existence of a people who have left their traces everywhere. Once, everyone would have had their own Cinisara, the breed of cattle, but today only 2,500 of them remain, 500 of which can be found here in the Vecchia Mannara.
The Cinisara is a very rural breed and can graze even on the most arduous terrains, collecting particular grasses, such as the old wild species on Monte Palmeto; this rural inclination that it has, which always leads it to prefer a roaming life, allows it keep its young close to pass down their nutritional wisdom to them – in other words, how they should feed and how to choose the best grass. It is precisely this, in fact, that unmistakably distinguishes the dairy products that come from them. The ancient, local, wild grass of these mountains, together with the iodine from the sea breeze make the milk incredibly rich in beta-carotene.
But the taste, flavour and smell are not the only things that benefit from these characteristics, because thanks to the microclimate of this pasture, the milk and cheese are also particularly effective antioxidants. It is for this reason that the Evola family has handed this profession down for three generations, granting it value and a great deal of potential. Uncle Emilio Mario Evola is also writing a book on the Cinisara cow, leaving a permanent mark of everything that a lifetime’s work has taught him.
If you have the same ability to cross arduous roads as the Cinisensi cows, they will be extremely happy to welcome you in the mountains of Monte Palmeto, which have been taken care of by a Sikh family for more than twenty years, every day, so that we do not forget that in their Indian culture, this animal is sacred. As an alternative, the Evola family will be waiting for you at the Vecchia Mannara cheese factory to let you taste the fruits of their produce; a produce that is, of course, always fresh, but has its roots firmly set in a distant past.
It starts with the “giant cannolo”, which is one of the largest cannoli – a Sicilian dessert – in the whole region, crammed with their fresh ricotta; mozzarella is added and the caviocavallo cheese is shaped. You can then enjoy the rich tastes of their own work, with smoked caciotta and their own take on vastedda bread. These cheeses are more or less the same ones that the renowned chef Filippo La Mantia has brought all the way up to Milan, unquestionably showing the evident value of a choice without compromises.
For lovers of horseracing, don’t worry! Together with the Cinisara, it is the other great passion of the Evolas. The family will always be happy to welcome you and show you what they live for each and every day, but there, in the lands of Peppino Impastato and the Capaci massacres, in a Sicily far beyond the most well-known and folkloristic iconography.
Perfect for: Cheese lovers and the cheese-addicted; those who love horse riding; those curious to discover a Sicily far beyond the most well-known and folkloristic iconography.
You need to bring: For those who decide to go and search for the cows in the mountains, we advise comfortable clothing and shoes appropriate for trekking. For those who would simply like to visit the cheese factory, sportswear is recommended. In both cases, we greatly encourage the desire to try your hand at cheese-making, to then taste it all afterwards.
You will meet: The whole Evola family as well as other people who work with the Cinisara cow's cheeses.