Thursday, 21 August 2008

Psst, do you have any Burrata?

The habit began, as many do, quite innocently. I was watching a program of French television about buffalo milk mozzarella and the problems of dioxin contamination.

It was informative, and made me glad I don’t live in Naples, but as I watched the workers pulling the cheese curds, uncontaminated ones, and forming mozzarella by hand I started to get hungry.

Then the program concluded with an Italian chef, describing, as perhaps only an Italian could, how it was important to cut the cheese just before serving so that you could still see its “tears". That was it; I headed out to my local market looking for buffalo mozzarella.
It’s imported from Italy and disappears quickly in the summer, as the tomatoes ripen and basil blooms. There was none.
I tried every cheese monger in market until I finally stumbled across something that looked similar. A large white cheese bobbing in an unmarked plastic tub filled with liquid. It was a burrata.
At home, I sliced it up, and ate it with tomatoes, olive oil, seasoned with freshly ground pepper. It was delicious and addictive.

Burrata is a bag of stretchy mozzarella cheese into which leftover mozzarella curds and fresh cream are packed. This gives the cheese a very soft texture and buttery taste. I have since learned that it is often wrapped in asphodel leaves , which indicate freshness. The most recent burrata I bought, shown in the photo, was indeed wrapped in bright green leaves but, they were made of plastic! My cheese monger assured me it was very fresh, having just arrived the day before from Italy so I handed over my credit card and took it home. Burrata must be eaten up quickly, easily done. And like so many addictions, it is expensive and you are left wanting more. At least with legal habits you get air miles.

I am yet to be more adventurous with my burrata, I just keep eating with it tomatoes. Perhaps someone out there has some ideas?

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