Since the early 2000s, California cheesemaker Fiscalini Cheese Company has been earning accolades and turning heads with the company’s exceptional artisan cheese offerings. And recently, the company celebrated a very special victory, earning one of specialty foods’ top prizes—a Specialty Food Association (SFA) sofi™ Award for the company’s Lionza cheese.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Laura Genasci about the company’s recent victory and its storied past. As a fourth-generation owner, Laura works on the day-to-day operations of the company alongside her brother Brian Fiscalini—who oversees the dairy, cheese plant, and the company’s renewable energy project. And, though the forward-thinking West Coast company may have an eye attuned to innovation, Laura tells me that the company can trace its California pastures back more than 100 years and its cheese making roots in the Alps back several centuries.
“The Fiscalini family’s cheese making roots go back to their ancestors in Switzerland who made a living producing cheese in the 1700s. Today, the family is proud continue those traditions in Modesto, California, on the same property first generation owner John Baptiste Fiscalini purchased for a dairy site in 1914,” Laura explains, noting that the company’s award winning offering is very much implicated in the family’s history. “And Lionza is a Swiss Alpine style cheese, named after the tiny village high in the Swiss Alps that the Fiscalini family called home for more than 300 years.”
The history of this handmade artisan cheese is compelling, and its taste equally so. Laura tells me that it’s this combination of heritage, handcrafted-quality, and exceptional taste that retailers appreciate—and consumers gravitate toward—in Fiscalini cheese.
“Lionza is a unique cheese; it’s complex flavors make it a favorite amongst cheese mongers and cheese lovers alike,” Laura notes. “We follow the same traditional methods that were developed generations ago to create this one of a kind cheese. It’s aromas and essence range from nutty, fruity, and tangy to floral, herbal, and buttery. Lionza has a natural rind, a few irregular eyes and a semi-soft springy texture. It is most often used a table cheese but is also versatile in the kitchen.”
Equally at home in a sandwich, a burger, or that most famous of Swiss delicacies—macaroni and cheese—Laura tells me that Fiscalini’s uniquely-versatile, pleasantly-complicated profile is a testament to the company’s talented cheese makers and its locally-sourced handcrafted way of producing cheese.
“Master Cheesemaker Mariano Gonzalez would suggest it’s a combination of factors that help him to make great cheese,” Laura adds. “We are a small farm only using milk from our cows, we have the passion to craft and a desire to share our cheeses with families around the world. This is our first sofi and feel honored to have been recognized by the association.”
For more dairy, deli, bakery, and specialty food news, keep reading Deli Market News.