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Monday, March 17, 2008

Caprese Salad: The Only Way To Enjoy Fresh Mozzarella Di Bufala Campana



The weather was glorious today in San Francisco with crystal clear skies, cerulean blue waters and warm golden sunshine.

I felt like I had been transported to some warm weather clime along the Tyrrhenian Sea, away from the spectacle of American politics, away from the burst of the real estate market bubble, where few people had ever heard of Dow Jones Averages, Senate Committee hearings or Barry Bonds; and the farmer's markets aren't trendy places to see and be seen but a bona fide way of life.



Yup, today I felt like I was on a magic carpet ride to here:

La bella Napoli.

Can't you see the resemblance around the eyes?

Sure they have the legendary Mount Vesuvius, a jealous, capricious goddess in the Avellino region of Campania that could wipe out their entire bay area as completely as she did Pompeii and all we have is somewhat timid Mount Tam where a capricious cyclist could wipe out a hiker if he were jealous of his right of way.
But these tragic incidences would both be relatively comparable in terms of sheer disaster. I mean, it would be just as catastrophic for that poor hiker to go tumbling off a high cliff into oblivion as it would be for Naples to be buried in a pile of magma & ash, wouldn't it?
No?
Oh well, maybe not.

My point is the day was so warm & lovely it made me feel like eating a lovely salad named after Capri, an island off the Sorrentine peninsula in the Gulf of Naples. It is, of course, Insalata Caprese a.k.a. the Caprese Salad.

Actually, all I really wanted was the fresh mozzarella.

Not just any old fresh domestic mozzarella sold under Italian names, even if they are made by cheese-loving Italian immigrants fresh off the boat. I wanted imported mozzarella di bufala campana, the undisputed emperor of fresh mozzarella, accept no domestic bovine substitutes. No matter how long they've had them soaking in briny water; manufactured domestic cow's milk mozzarella cannot compare with it's richer, creamier, fuller tasting buffalo milk cousin.
Sorry, Belgiosa, Belfiore, Mozzarella Fresca, Gioia's Burrata, and all the rest. You just can't cut it. Anyone whose says domestic cow's milk fresh mozzarella comes close or is better than the original has either never tasted fresh buffalo mozzarella or is a moron.

Granted, the Italian import must be purchased & eaten practically the moment it hits the store's refrigerator shelves; but all you have to do is find out from your cheese purveyor when the shipment is due.
There is this technological marvel known as the jet freight which flies these cheeses in soon after they are produced. Find a shop with lots of clientele clamoring for product like Cheese Plus, A.G. Ferrari, The Cheese Board, etc. & you will find fresh Italian buffalo mozzarella, if you get there early. Hell, even Whole Foods has it.

BTW, Why are there no American made fresh mozzarella di bufala. Isn't the West where the buffalo roam & the deer and the antelope reign?

I know as a society our collective tastes tend to lean a bit to the homogenized and the pedestrian but there is an ever-growing movement of foodies, producers & purveyors with more sophisticated palates than their 8 year old children. Can't they figure out a way to get the milk from the buffalo before they grind the poor dears up for hamburger patties? Just asking....

For me the only way to eat a fresh beautiful piece of mozzarella di bufala is simply, purely.

Nothing comes between me and my mozzarella di bufala.
Nothing.

No bread, no salt, no pepper. Just thick coins of creamy, custardy cheese from the producer Gustosella of Fresca Italia with a splash of the purest, unrefined olive oil you can find and a salad fork.
Some say the oil must be from Sorrento but, hey, I'm no food Nazi, a little handcrafted Balzana from Figueroa Farms of the Santa Ynez Valley is just fine. It's March not August, so I just garnish it with cherry tomatoes & fresh basil for artistic effect without really eating the garnish.

Heavenly, Heavenly. Like billowy clouds of fat and lactose.
Doesn't that sound so appealing? It would if you could taste these ambrosial curds.
If there were a cheesy rendition of the Atkins Diet I would wholeheartedly advocate it and be an active participant in marketing it.

I feel that our founding fathers would have included the consumption of mozzarella di bufala in the Bill of Rights if just one of them had been Italian. But sadly, the Continental Congress was chock full of WASPs. Nary a true continental man among them.

Photograph:George Washington (middle) surrounded by members of the Continental Congress,  lithograph by Currier & Ives, c. 1876.
Could Georgie be expounding on the virtues of mozzarella di bufala?

Benji Franklin & TJ (Jefferson) were francophiles but what the hell do the French know about fresh curd, anyway? They won't eat a cheese until it's been buried in a cave for a few years to be resurrected only when it is redolent with eau de smelly armpits.

Even then it can't be eaten until it's oozing with penicillin and resembles a dead Brit.

(.... and, Mr & Mrs. Smarty Pants, don't talk to me about chevre. It's a totally different animal. Figuratively, as well as literally!)


Disclaimer: I love French cheeses including chevre. I also adore the British with their wily wit, their brilliant accents and amazing architecture. Let's make this clear, I want none of Her Majesty's subjects ever to be injured in the cheesemaking process.

Anyway, let's see what all this fuss is about:

Pretty isn't it?


Look at that composition!
Can you see its custardy goodness and savor those sweet aromas?


No?
Come on, take a good look...

Can't you feel it's luscious delicate curds melting in your mouth?
Coating your tongue with a creamy kiss....


No?

Dammit, have you no Eyes? No Mouth? No Soul?
Be the cheese.... close your eyes, dear reader, and be the cheese.


Are you really trying?


Now sink... deeply into the milk, immerse yourself into the cool white bath
Come on now....
.... You're not being the cheese!



Look at it again.... rivulets of fruity oil nestled in its billowy bosom.
How can you resist it?

You know you want it..... now taste it... before Mistress loses her patience!!!


There, now, didn't that feel good... Mistress didn't hurt too much, did she?


You owe that organic orgasmic experience to:


Worth every penny!

3 comments:

Al Boozy said...

http://www.realmozzarella.com/

Southern California baby!!!!

Lori said...

OMG, Yaaay!!!
Thanks so much Al, gotta get me some of that California buffalo milk fresh mozzarella. I'll put a link on my blog as soon as I try some!

Jack (Ric) said...

The really good produce is starting to show here in SoCal - those roadside stands are a treat to stop in at on the way home from the big city. It adds so much to the dinner meal.
Don't you agree?

Ric