THE RUOCCO DAIRY IN AGEROLA: THE DAIRY EXCELLENCE ON THE AMALFI COAST
In Agerola, "terrace" of the Amalfi Coast, taste plays a primary role in the products of excellence of the Ruocco family, cheesemakers for three generations. We interviewed Matteo Ruocco who just got back from international successes in Dubai, New York and Parigi!
by Vittoria Samaria
The Ruocco dairy - an excellence of the Amalfi Coast, is located in Agerola, the natural terrace of the Amalfi Coast in the frame of the Lattari Mountains - is a cornerstone of the dairy art of these places. For more than sixty years here are being produced dairy products with a unique and unmistakable flavor: fiordilatte, smoked provole, mozzarella morsels and braids, scamorze, ricotta, butter, and various types of cheese. Among all, one product stands out: the Provolone del Monaco DOP. It is a specialty of this part of Campania and the top cheese product of the Ruocco diary.
Today the dairy, run by the grandsons of the founder, Gaetano, Pasquale, and the two Matteo, carries on the family tradition with modern techniques but with ancient systems, and continues to produce cheese, both fresh and aged, with high nutritional properties. Their products are exported beyond coastal borders and are highly valued in many parts of the world!
We interviewed Matteo Ruocco who, in addition to being the managing director of the family business, has been Vice President of the Consortium of Guardianship of the Provolone of Monaco since 2006.
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Ruocco Dairy, courtesy Ruocco family
Matteo, tell us how your business, a dairy factory dating back to 1960, was born.
The dairy was born after the war, when my grandfather needed to find a way to feed his children. So he thought of using the milk produced by his cows to make cheese for his family, because at the time there was no market.
Gradually his passion for making cheese grew and, from a breeder he became a cheesemaker, giving birth to the first dairy.
My father was a breeder, my grandfather was a breeder and in the following years, we returned to our origins.
In our stables today we host a cow of excellence, of agerolese breed, which gave us the opportunity to get the PDO recognition. This breed in fact produces particular milk, rich in protein and high in fat, and with unique organoleptic properties, that we use to make our cheese.
How do you recognize the agerolese cow? What is different from the others?
The agerolese cow is a hybrid between podolica breed, Jersey, and Bruna Alpina. You can recognize it by its coat, by the white stripe on the back and the nose. Growing up in our territories, where there are no large terraces and therefore hay or other, the cows feed on brushwood. It is precisely the tannin, contained in the bark of the brushwood, that gives the milk its characteristic fragrant and tasty taste.
What is produced with this particularly tasty milk in addition to fresh dairy products?
This special milk is used for an exceptional product, the Provolone del Monaco PDO. The PDO disciplinary speaks clearly: to obtain this cheese - really good and with a minimum maturation of 6 months - 20% of the milk used has to be from the agerolese cows, while for the remaining part it is possible to use milk of different breeds, provided that they are raised in the production area.
That’s the reason why this breed, which is bred only in the DOP Monti Lattari area (Agerola, Vico Equense, Massa Lubrense, Meta, Piano di Sorrento, Sant'Agnello, Sorrento, Castellammare di Stabia, Casola di Napoli, Gragnano, Lettere, Pimonte, Santa Maria la Carità. ed.) it’s very well protected.
Provolone del Monaco, courtesy Ruocco family
The authorized producers compare their products each year. There is an award by the Consortium of Protection of the Provolone of Monaco. You received it too!
Yes, it is true! Every year there is a big gala where the best product of the year is awarded and sometimes we even managed to win. But, you know, the important thing is not winning but being there! Being part of this group, of this team that produces excellent cheese, has allowed us to make ourselves known both as a company and as a territory on the international markets.
About the international market, we know you were at the last Expo in Dubai. Tell us something about this international experience.
In the Arab Emirates, we were honored by sheiks, and many important people, both operators and insiders, came to see what we do: our Italian talents and skills! These joyful experiences are very much needed because they give you the right boost and the stimuli to keep on doing your best.
Seeing in such a leading world the unique dairy products, the result of so much craftsmanship and tradition, be so successful, fills you with satisfaction and repays for all the work done.
We also had the company of our friends from Cetara, who presented the Colatura di Alici, another excellence of the Amalfi Coast and we can say that without great effort we have attracted so many people to the Italian Pavilion, only thanks to the mastery of our craftsmanship.
After this great international success, what is the future of the Ruocco family and this historic dairy?
I wish all the best for Agerola and the PDO area to continue to grow.
For our history, for what we represent as a company and as a family, my cousins and I are working to complete a structure where we can accommodate friends who come to the Amalfi Coast with a perfect welcome, respecting both those who are working and those who are visiting.
Tourists will have the opportunity to taste our dairy products and, why not? to take them home if they think our craft products correspond to their fame in the world!
Many thanks to Matteo Ruocco and best wishes for the future. We hope you will continue to promote and make famous the excellence of the Amalfi Coast in the world!
Via Iovieno - II Trav. n. 2
Agerola, Costiera Amalfitana
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