Do you know about the ravioli from Milk Pail Market? I knew that they were popular and people came from miles away to buy them, but I didn’t know exactly what the secret ingredient was until this week. I asked Steve Rasmussen, owner of Milk Pail Market, to tell me the details about why his ravioli are so popular. The key ingredient is the “fromage blanc.” It’s handmade cheese. The Milk Pail owns 29 cows. They live in Orland, California. That’s about 3 hours north. The cows have 39 acres to graze on and they're quite happy about their job. Paul Schmidt, the magical cheesemaker and dairy farmer, also lives in Orland on the farm. Paul makes the fromage blanc and Steve takes the fresh cheese to his ravioli maker. Steve sometimes, actually most of the time, tweaks the recipe by blending other ingredients with the fresh fromage blanc. The selection of raviolis changes from time to time. Steve told me that he likes to mix it up for his “thrill-seeker customers.” I guess I’m included in that group.
Fromage blanc can be used in the place of ricotta or cottage cheese. It has much more of a tangy flavor than ricotta or cottage. The tartness comes form the natural lactic acid in the cheese. Other, lower quality cheeses that aren't as flavorful, add lemon juice or vinegar to get that same flavor. You can use the fromage blanc in crepes, tiramisu or lasagna, just to name a few. I got a container of it and I plan on making lasagna this week.
Last night I made two different kinds of the Milk Pail’s ravioli. I made the one with both parmigiano reggiano and fromage blanc cheeses and also the one that is a blend of three cheeses, including fromage blanc. The shapes of the raviolis are different so you can make them together and you’ll still be able to tell them apart from each other. I boiled them until they were perfectly al dente and then added them to browned butter with fresh parsley and tiny grape tomatoes. It was heavenly. Honestly, you don’t need sauce on them because they have so much flavor on their own. I planned on taking a cute photo of them before we sat to eat, but I was overwhelmed with excitement and I forgot that part. That’s why the photo for this story is of the frozen raviolis in their package. I also forgot to crack open a bottle of red wine, but I’ll be sure I do that when I serve the lasagna.
I love that we have had the Milk Pail Market here for the last 38 years and that they continue to offer us high quality products. It’s businesses like the Milk Pail Market that make our city the unique place that it is. I love Mountain View.