Patrizia’s bella mozzarella

I could not wait for my recent trip to Italy, it meant I was going to have my fill of cheese, fresh, in the country from which it hails. Before arriving in Italy, we spent time in the land of milk and honey; breathtaking Israel. I will tell you about the exquisite Mediterranean cuisine we enjoyed there another time. I began to anticipate my arrival in Italy. I knew that our first stop would be to visit Bu Mozzarella Bistro, Castello di Cisterna. My mouth watered as we left Tel Aviv to arrive in Napoli only a couple of hours later. The exhilarating effect of biting into the ever so creamy-soft and intoxicating mozzarella that feels so distant now to even be described. Buffalo mozzarella (or mozzarella di bufala in Italian) originates from select regions dominated by cheese rules, located in the southern province of Campania. The Italians have perfected it for hundreds of years and are pretty smug about that. Luckily, there are a couple of local options but whatever you do, never confuse mozzarella di bufala with cow’s milk mozzarella, especially the packaged kind we shred onto pizza here in North America. The milk for mozzarella di bufala comes from water buffalo-the type that are usually found in Asia. Water buffalo arrived in Italy hundreds of years ago on boats from Egypt into Sicily and have stuck around.
Mozzarella di bufala has about twice the fat content of cow’s milk, which is why it is so delicious. It is stretched and shaped into numerous sizes. It is a delicate, rich, cheese, and has an edible rind. In Italy, mozzarella di bufala is sold very quickly after it’s made, often within a day and it is never refrigerated. It was very common to walk in to any one of my aunt’s homes to find small buckets or pales filled with mozzarella on their window sills. The Canadian-made variety that we can buy here lasts anywhere from two to three weeks, depending on the brand and origin. Mozzarella di bufala is considered the white gold or the pearl of the table. It is served in salads, with bread or on pizza and truly there is no place like it’s home to eat it. You can stick a fork into the tender white ball and watch the juices stream out; slide in the knife and its fresh, milky smell will wake up your taste buds. My favorite way to eat it is to lift it straight from its briny bath and eat the cheese with my hands. At home, I enjoy it most when local, juicy and sweet, heirloom tomatoes are available in my mom’s backyard. Simply toss tomatoes, gently with fresh basil, a lick of olive oil, a sprinkling of fleur de sel and a grind of pepper. Gently tear the ball of mozzarella in half, exposing its soft and creamy interior and lay it alongside the tomatoes. Of course, you can’t forget a warm baguette which is served to mop up the juices and the olive oil. It really doesn’t matter how you eat it, Mozzarella di bufala always pleases. It is simply devine!
Try serving this appetizer the next time you are hosting dinner! This recipe requires two mason jars and four ingredients.
22 balls of mozzarella di bufala
21 half cup tomato sauce
21 small eggplant. diced and pan fried in olive oil
until soft and golden brown
21 quarter cup of pesto sauce
Layer the tomato sauce and fried eggplant into the two mason jars until three quarters full. Reserve two tablespoons of pesto, the rest will get split between your two jars and top the tomato sauce and eggplant layers.
Place a ball of mozzarella di bufala on top of each of the jars covering the sauce and eggplant layers. Top the mozzarella with a spoonful of pesto. Pronto! Simply dig in and spread over crostini which have been made by baking a sliced baguette, coated with olive oil and a generous sprinkle of red chili flakes.


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