Sunday, January 4, 2015

Double 8 Dairy

The holy grail of gelato.
I've known about Double 8 Dairy for a while now and even came close to finding time to sign up for a tour to meet the buffalo but I haven't been able to try it. Until now.
I searched out the gelato cart in Pt Reyes. Nothing. I got no response when I tried calling the dairy to find out where their product is sold (other than restaurant accounts like French Laundry, Osteria Stellina, and A16). Then when I least expected it, while lunching at Marin Sun Farms (a favorite burger place near the dairy's farm in Valley Ford) I spied the orange and red package. I quickly grabbed two flavors and paid before I even checked the price.
The gelato has the same clean, clear taste as buffalo mozzarella. There is no fatty aftertaste as you can get with American style ice cream filled with cream and eggs. Buffalo milk has a much higher fat content than cow's milk so no additional cream is required. The simple 3 ingredient recipe (and artisanal process) pays off in the fresh flavor.
Andrew Zlot of Double 8 Dairy is not the first American to try water buffalo farming. But most operations have failed. Buffalo (especially the buffalo in North America that haven't benefited from the superior genetics of centuries of milking expertise) are known for low milk production. Low production combined with cheese making which reduces the milk's weight before it's ready for market make for a difficult bottom line. Double 8's genius is that they started with gelato. Instead of a pound of cheese for every four pounds of milk they get 2 pounds of gelato for every pound of buffalo milk. Still not an easy path, but developing a premium delicious niche product with little waste might just be the start a new dairy needs. And it may -- I hope -- keep them alive until they start cheesemaking (and building up the herd) down the road.
For now I'll keep searching out their cheery packages (though honestly if I didn't know the name of the dairy I'd have missed that it was buffalo milk from the package design) and bringing home this special treat for James.

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