Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cheesy Dreams

Now it's not quite as cold in Italy as it is in the UK but I'm still sitting here in Rome with a snivelling cold watching Sky News instead of being out enjoying la Dolce Vita on a Saturday night.

Admittedly it was snowing the other day in Puglia, but that was up a mountain, and it rained a lot, and it was bloody freezing on Thursday, and I brought the damn thing with me from the UK...etc.

But it's all worth it because just before I temporarily lost my sense of smell and taste, I rediscovered the magic mozzarella, first passed my lips many years ago and too long absent. You know mozzarella? That rubber ball in the plastic bag filled with milky water that can be used for pizzas, crumbled into salads, sliced for accompanying tomato, avocado and basil? Well in Puglia you'd barely recognise it.

Firstly it's always a lot softer, even the common stuff, and has a slightly more acidic quality to it. But in the rarified atmosphere of Slow Food, Agrimuseums, local producers and organic farming that has gripped Puglia as much as anywhere else, the top drawer mozzarella is in a different league. It's called a Burrata.

The ball is meltingly soft and inside it's stuffed with a stringy/soupy/creamy/buttery mix that has a flavour like nothing else I've ever tasted. Somebody brought me one back from Matera many years ago and, having never seen one before, was about to put it in the fridge to firm it up. Fortunately I was stopped.

Later that day, when asken how the mozarella was, I simply said "finished".

On top of Mont Saint Angelo (while flurries of snow blew outside) we were fed just the mix itself, without the cheese ball casing. That was even better. And in a variety of farms and restaurants I dug in as if famished when offered a tiny morsel. "Ooh, you like it, take another". I didn't need asking twice.

It apparently began as a way of using scraps of leftover mozzarella but I don't care about that, all I know is that it's one of the tastiest cheeses on the planet. Sadly, unlikely to be tasted in the near future as it has to be consumed within 24 hours - at 48 it needs chucking out - and the race to get fresh Burrata to London in that time is likely to affect the price. Er, adversely.

Which brings me to the world's best ricotta, also from Puglia.........

No, enough with the cheese, I've got manflu. I couldn't even smell Stinking Bishop if it was stuck under my nose right now. I need to go and suffer somewhere. And dream of cheese.


HallmarkTravels said...

Cheese from Puglia is really great, but food and wine in general are delicious in our amazing region.

If you wish to live an exclusive culinary travel experience take a look and get your own idea about

Melanie Be x said...

Hi Nation
Happy 2010

Nationwide said...

You have the X- factor.

have a Happy New Year too!

Melanie B said...

Where can you buy square sausage in London


Nationwide said...

Morrisons generally keep it.
I once got thrown out of Harrods Food Hall asking for it. I think I might have told you that already.
Apparently Iceland and Lidl also stock vile versions of it too.

Melanie Sausage said...

When I came to London 1978 Harrods was the only store that stocked it

That's true

Nationwide said...

Well get you Mrs Hoity Toity! Buting one's square sausage in Harrods, from Sir Hugh Fraser himself no doubt!

I brought some down for the flatmates then, but it was scoffed by late night revellers. We figured Harrods might be a good bet. The man thought we meant square shaped links and threw us out for taking the mick.

Now you can't even buy a needle and thread in the place (trust me, I've tried, it's been my corner shop for several years)

Melanie said...

You minted Nation ??

Remember the Birds Eye skinless sausages they were good

Nationwide said...

I like Kendal Mint Cake, yes.

And I can remember the Bird's Eye Skinless Sausages. But mamma used to get Nanny to skin all our sausages for us.

Melanie said...

I can laugh having endured cancer but Nation can you just see that Daily Mail headline

Square sausage gave me cancer

Happy 2010 x

Nationwide said...

My favourite was from the Sunday Post "Doc" page.

"Never Eat Mince On A Muggy Day"

Sound advice indeed.