Best Urban Cheesemaker (2004)

The Mozzarella Co.

Soft, smooth, ivory-colored snowballs of fresh mozzarella move out the back door of Paula Lambert's The Mozzarella Co. headed for local groceries including Simon David, Whole Foods Market, Tom Thumb, Albertson's and Fort Worth's tiny, exclusive Roy Pope Grocery. Some of these cheeses are headed for the salad plates at The Mansion, too, where they might be sliced and alternated with juicy, red slices of ripe tomatoes, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with racked black pepper and a chiffonade of fresh basil leaves. "I love Paula's cheeses," executive chef Dean Fearing of The Mansion says, "and we were the first restaurant to carry them." Mozzarella was the first and only cheese Lambert made for a while, but now she's added a unique "Deep Ellum Blue" to her bill of fare. It's stacked in a cooler behind the small retail counter at the front of the shop, along with mozzarella rolls stuffed with prosciutto, green olives or sun-dried tomatoes; goat's milk ricotta; and goat cheese rolled in black peppercorns or chopped herbs. Lambert's first cookbook, The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide, contains 150 of her favorite recipes plus textbook-quality, comprehensive sections on cheese history, nutrition, types of cheese, storing, serving and cutting cheese, and even a chapter on making cheese at home.

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