Operating out of an unassuming shopping complex in Table View, owner and cheesemaker Davide Ostuni creates an array of deliciously authentic Italian cheeses. Coupled with the Ital Emporio deli run by his wife Ursula, Davide retails Puglia Cheese at Spar Vredehoek, Sea Point and Cape Quarter, as well as Giovanni’s in Green Point, Continental Food Deli in Camps Bay, Olive Branch Deli in Lifestyle on Kloof and Vineyard Deli in Durbanville.
Having run Puglia Cheese for several years, Davide first became involved in cheesemaking as it encapsulates both cooking and creativity. Puglia Cheese was born after Davide and Ursula realised that there were no authentic Italian fior di latte or burrata cheeses to be found on the local market. Made in the artisanal way, each cheese has a character of its own – Davide prefers to use a literal hands-on approach to production. Employees make each cheese by hand, ensuring an entirely different product to what one usually finds in the supermarket. Passionate about authenticity, Davide’s cheeses have their own perfect imperfections, making them a talking point on any cheeseboard.
Only a small niche market bought Davide’s creations up until about two years ago, but with the increase of food knowledge via social media, more customers are demanding fresh, artisanal cheese as opposed to the more readily available overly processed varieties. Compared to Gouda and Cheddar – both the most widely consumed cheeses in South Africa – artisanal Italian cheeses are still relatively unknown. But Davide is confident that this will change.
Having recently opened the Fior di Latte Cheese Bar in Gardens’ Park Road (sharing an entrance with Cause & Effect cocktail bar), Davide is now bringing Puglia cheese to the city, offering fresh fior di latte mozzarella made while you wait. ‘Even in Italy, this service is rare,’ says Davide. Fior di Latte Cheese Bar also offers patrons the choice of 15 dishes, all based on their cheeses. Open for brunch and lunch, the menu demonstrates the versatility of Puglia Cheese cheeses and gives diners ideas on how to use the cheeses when cooking at home.
Puglia Cheese hopes to focus on training a whole new generation of cheesemakers on how to make authentic Italian cheeses, as Davide laments a shortage in artisanal cheesemaking skills in the country.
‘South Africa is still concentrating on mass productions of Cheddar, Gouda and melting cheese for pizza – we refuse to call it mozzarella. There are very few small cheese boutiques doing something different or using different milk for their production – ones that produce by hand, in small quantities. We realize that the only way to make niche cheese more readily available and abundant is by teaching the new generation the art of cheesemaking. We are currently working on our next project in making this happen, but that is news for another day.’ – Davide Ostuni
When asked which cheese is his personal favourite, Davide reckons it has to be Puglia’s burrata. ‘When you’ve bitten into burrata and the delicious whey cream is running down your chin, you know there is no going back!’
Puglia Cheese & Ital Emporio Deli can be found in Leonardo Park, Link Road, Parklands Main Road, Cape Town. Call +27 21 556 7188 or visit puglia.co.za for more details.