Russian monks make mozzarella

Awesome!

Monks at a remote monastery in northern Russia are launching the production of exquisite types of Italian cheese, it is reported.

One of the brethren has already been to Italy for training, and cheese-making equipment has been purchased, says Valaam, one of Russia’s most famous monasteries.

Monk Agapy spent a week in Italy, where local masters taught him to make such cheeses as mozzarella, caciotta, morlacco, smoked ricotta and bianca, Valaam says on its Facebook page.

A spokesman for the island monastery told the BBC that it expects production to start in December, using milk from cows at its own farm to make the cheeses. The initial plan is for them to be consumed at the monastery, but eventually Valaam hopes to produce up to 350 kg of cheese a week, at which point they will go on sale at less remote religious communities in Russia.

Valaam plays an important role in Russia’s religious life and is believed to be favoured by President Vladimir Putin. Italian cheeses are among the Western food imports that were banned by the Russian government in retaliation for economic sanctions against Moscow – over its actions in Ukraine.

Hey, why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy such cheeses?

And once the embargo is lifted, they’ll probably keep making their cheese, having started doing it.

The West’s loss is their gain!

1,500-year-old Byzantine monastery unearthed in southern Israel

Awesome discovery!

A worker for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) stands on the mosaic floor of a monastery unearthed during excavations in Hura, east of Beersheba April 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen)

A worker for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) stands on the mosaic floor of a monastery unearthed during excavations in Hura, east of Beersheba April 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen)

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it has uncovered a “spectacular” 1,500-year-old Byzantine monastery, complete with a prayer hall and intact floor mosaics, in southern Israel. The monastery, suspected of being used for Christian worship in the 6th century, was discovered as part of a salvage excavation before construction of a new highway in the Negev Desert.