Chef Liam LaCivita is famous for the seasonally, locally sourced cuisine he serves at his restaurant, The Liberty Tavern in Washington, D.C. The Liberty Tavern menu includes as many as 15 different varieties of house-made cheeses, so we were excited to collaborate with Chef LaCivita as we launch Williams-Sonoma Agrarian and celebrate the joys of making fresh cheese at home.
We asked LaCivita to share his thoughts on cheese-making, which you can read in the quotes below. Then, try it yourself and use the fruits of your labor in our exclusive recipe from Chef LaCivita, Goat Cheese Crostini with Spring Pea Puree.
“I have always had a passion to learn about cultures and traditions, which is partly why I became a chef. Cheese to me is its own history lesson. It is fascinating on so many levels, based not only on the culinary aspect, but its origins, why it was made and of course how it is made. For me, I feel as if I am not a complete chef unless I know how to make many artisanal products. I feel that as a chef you must immerse yourself in not just creating a dish, but creating those components of the dish as well.”
“In this age of local and sustainable food, I feel it is common sense to use the wonderful bounties around me. In the Mid-Atlantic we are blessed with verdant pastures and mountains that are perfect for cows, goats and sheep. The milk I receive is so fresh that I receive it one day after milking.”
“Having wonderful milk made me want to incorporate it on our menus, and cheese making just came naturally. I could start off by making some simple ricotta for the pastas on the menu, than I can progress to the more difficult cheeses. It is such a rewarding experience that after you master the first few cheeses you gain confidence to expand your knowledge and soon your repertoire.”
“Now I have as many as fifteen high-quality cheeses on our menus, from ash-ripened chèvres to juniper-smoked Scamorza to aged Salata made. It is an experience that is unlike cooking. It is not immediate satisfaction. Instead, it builds up after weeks, when you cut into your first mold-ripened chèvre you will never want to buy someone else’s cheese again!”
Try our recipe from Chef Liam LaCivita:
This spring pea puree pairs beautifully with fresh chèvre or cabecou, a soft goat cheese from southern France, and a glass of crisp Sancerre.