How I Met Melville

Melville and Crackers

In the summer, I am always on the lookout for mild, soft cheeses to eat with fresh herbs and crackers. Something about that combination sings in my ear. It’s a 4 o’clock thing. I get noshy. I start dreaming of cocktail hour. Mentally, of course, I prepare a cheese plate.

And that’s how I met Melville.

Melville is mozzarella’s second cousin once removed, the one you see in family photos wearing a white linen suit when everyone else is wearing dirty jeans. He’s a square block with a slightly pleated surface and a very…and I mean verrrry…smooth demeanor.

If Melville could be anything other than a cheese, he would be silken tofu. Because he loves silk. All fabrics really, as long as they are high quality. Melville is made from from fresh Connecticut milk, aged a total of 7 days, and has been created in the style of Northern Italian Stracchino — a pliable, adaptable, impossibly fresh style of cheese that is beloved for melting.

You know how mozzarella is thready? Well, Melville is custardy.

It’s basically panna cotta in cheese form.

Purr. I have lots to say about this summer lover.

Melville Hero Shot

Who, Pray, Is the Father of Melville?

Hold your hairnet on because this is a crazy story: Melville is made in a shipping container — or what’s called a “cheese pod” — in Mystic, Connecticut. In fact, I heard a Tweet about these mobile cheese-making units long before I met Melville.

Melville’s maker, Brian Civitello, developed his cheese pod concept as a way to help start-up cheesemakers launch their business without having to invest in infrastructure. Genius, right?

Brian hatched the idea after working with cheesemakers in Italy and around the U.S. He and his partner, Jason Sobocinski, now create make-to-order cheese pods. (If you fancy yourself becoming a gypsy cheesemaker — like some of the gypsy brewers who have gained attention — well, you know who to call. Or Tweet: @MysticCheeseCo.)

Melville, from Mystic Cheese Co., is the first cheese Brian made in his cheese pod.

Melville II

Should English Majors Eat Melville?

Melville is named in honor of Connecticut’s history of whaling and, of course, the greatest literary mammal of all: Moby Dick. If you bring a bit of Melville to English class, you should demand extra credit. You can point out the connection to Herman Melville’s giant creature of the sea and Melville’s damp, “blubbery” texture. “Blubbery” is Brian’s term — his press releases are full of original language, a welcome departure from “creamy” and “spreadable.”

For more extra credit, you could mention that Brian’s entire line of cheeses relies on books for inspiration. Even the label is drawn by a children’s book author named Queenie.


This fall, Brian plans to release Frost.

Formal poets everywhere will have a dairy-case diehard to studiously enjoy. I expect that, once it takes off, Frost will supplant rubbery supermarket Brie at English department gatherings everywhere. I don’t mind leading the cause.

Wondering What To Cook with Melville?

Since Melville arrived by mail (it was sent to me as a sample), I’ve been inspired to play with it in several dishes. Its milky sweetness takes well to fresh herbs or to accenting other dishes.

I’ve been on a kick of making balance bowls recently and taking them on picnics. Here, I used Melville almost like queso fresco. The fresh, clean taste of the milk works well with fresh veggies, roasted sweet potatoes, and black beans.

Balance Bowls 2Balance Bowl

One cool evening, I got an itch to cook some farro, and so I made a one-pot meal from Smitten Kitchen, using Melville in place of mozzarella — it melted like a champ. I was tempted to call my local pizza fiend and sneak Melville onto a wood-fired pie. But I didn’t have the willpower not to eat the last blubbery bit of it all by myself.

Faro and Melville

My favorite way to eat Melville? Alone, with a sprinkling of chives. I love how Brian has been inspired by a traditional Italian style of cheese to create a uniquely local beast that represents his Connecticut roots. I haven’t seen a cheese quite like it anywhere.


To read more about Melville: check out the posts by Formaggio Kitchen and by Cheese Notes.

To find Melville: Seacrest Foods distributes Melville across New England and New York. Saxelby Cheesemongers handles Melville in NYC. It’s also available at Whole Foods in all 35 North Atlantic Division stores.


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  1. […] after biting into a new cheese for the first time? Our good friend Madame Fromage was recently charmed by mozzarella’s smooth and swanky second cousin, Melville, a fresh, cow’s milk variety from Mystic […]

  2. […] on the back of the package. Cheesemaker Brian Civitello has a literary line of cheeses (remember Melville?), and this one is inspired by The […]

  3. […] earlier this year (it’s named after a Shakespeare quote). I’ve also written about Melville — after Moby Dick. And yes, Melville has the texture of whale […]

  4. […] to be a cheese intern is: You make eyes at Melville from across the room – he’s all briny and mellow and svelte on the tongue. Someone else has to […]

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