Exotic- fascinating- about as “farm-to-table as it can get. And wholly unscalable… but pretty cool at any level. “One Cow – One Cheese”.
Pärla may well be the most famous cow in all of Sweden. Seven years old, she is as white as the pearl she is named after, although her breed—the indigenous Fjäll, or Swedish Mountain cattle—often comes flecked with Pollack-esque black blotches. She is a timid creature, hesitant to meet your gaze from behind her long lashes, reluctant to explore far from home. But she does one thing exceedingly well: produce delicious milk. So delicious, in fact, that one restaurant serves cheese made only from hers.
Call it single-cow cheese. In an age in which a growing number of people want to know where their food comes from, one man has taken the idea of local sourcing to a new extreme. At PM & Vänner, a highly regarded restaurant in Sweden’s southern city of Växjö, co-owner Per Bengtsson came up with the idea of creating a cheese whose origins could be precisely determined. Very precisely.
One of the things that makes farm-to-table cuisine so compelling, for those who create and consume it, is the undeniable appeal of story. Knowing where the food on the plate comes from—who produced it, how, and where—adds an intimacy to the act of eating. That’s something that Bengtsson understood intuitively as he set about a way to remind his diners that even a processed food, like cheese, comes from someplace and something.