Crazy for Mozzarella
Who among us who grew up in the US in the 50s, perhaps other than Italians would believe this? Mozzarella cheese was a dry, rubbery glob that came wrapped in plastic from the supermarket. You’d never eat it straight, although it was delicious on pizza or in lasagna. Who would bother obsessing over this stuff, other than the lucky ones tuned into Italian delis?
The tides started to turn when some of the manufacturers started marketing little mozzarella balls packaged in water, using the traditional Italian name, fiore di latte, and really not bad.
But today, wonderful, real, fresh mozzarella is showing up more and more, from upscale grocery stores to delis (and not just the Italian ones), and restaurants.
Stamford, CT, denizens know that the best fresh traditional mozzarella comes from Fratelli Market (http://www.fratellimarketct.com/ ) where they make it continuously all day. It is even better than you can get on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, where NY State law mandates that they use a manufactured base instead of fresh milk. I had the pleasure of attending a mozzarella making/tasting demo at one of the leading delis there a while back, and while delicious, it did not hold a candle to Fratelli’s.
There is nothing more ethereal than a slice of really good mozzarella garnished simply with good olive oil, sea salt, and roasted red peppers, or, lusciously ripe heirloom tomatoes in the summer.
And, then there’s buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala), wetter/creamier with a very unique texture. This is the fresh mozzarella that is the most popular and widespread in Europe, and only recently has become accessible and affordable here.
No, we’re not talking about buffalos as in “home, home, on the range”, which are actually bison. Rather, these are domesticated water buffalo, which originated in Asia and were brought to Europe in the middle ages. And this is why buffalo mozzarella is imported.
Burata is the latest mozzarella to sweep into modern cuisine. Made from a combination of cream and mozzarella, wrapped in a thin layer of regular mozzarella to hold it in place, it is exceptionally rich with the cream giving a hint of sweetness.
Some restaurants now have whole sections of their menus dedicated to mozzarella. One favorite, Bar Sugo in Norwalk, CT (www.barsugo.com) offers different styles of mozzarella with special garnishes, e.g. mozzarella di bufala with fig jam and home-made mozzarella with truffle honey, all with cured meats and marinated vegetables. Molto Mozzerella and Wine bar in Fairfield, CT (www.pizzeriamolto.com) serves their several types with olives, roasted peppers and prosciutto and also makes an extraordinary burata pizza.
MyMEGusta refers to foods like this as “worth the fat, worth the calories.”