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Madame Fromage

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It’s Burrata Weather

Burrata Cheese

! IT-5000

On the first sticky day of summer, I walked down to Philadelphia’s Italian Market in search of something cool, and I came home with burrata. Cheese and humidity don’t always mix, but then, burrata isn’t ordinary cheese. It’s a fresh mozzarella compress wrapped around a scoop of glorious cream and bound together with leeks. If the leeks are bright green – without any brown spots – you know the cheese is fresh. It’s a neat trick.

At Di Bruno Bros., the burratas are made by hand and displayed in a vat of cool water, like a pod of baby manatees. The spectacle is coolness incarnate. You won’t find burrata at very many venues outside of Southern Italy, although Thomas Keller has been known to order these very burrata and serve them at his restaurant, Per Se, in New York. Give a Google, and you’ll find the naked burrata photos to prove it.

The secret of really good mozzarella, and thereby really good burrata, is a hand-pulled curd. Most fresh mozz is stretched by machine – this creates a rather stringy creature. Hand-pulled mozz is toothsome, not tough. Cheesemonger Hunter Fike details the process in an earlier post that is very much worth reading.

How do you serve a burrata? Cut it in half like a geode. Slicing it before dinner guests makes for a dramatic presentation, much like carving a turkey. You’ve heard of restaurants that now prepare table-side mozzarella? Everyone has eaten mozzarella, but how many have lunched on fresh burrata? Watch your friends clutch their cheeks as you pull this cheese apart to reveal a cream-filled center.

Burrata is best served with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and the best baguette you can find. You can gussy it up with some fresh herbs and roasted cherry tomatoes, but it doesn’t need much else. With a lightly dressed salad and a bottle of white wine, you’ve got a simple supper. Quick. Cooling. Luxurious.

For something extra decadent, try a burrata stuffed with truffle cream. It sounds absurd, and it is. Frankly, it’s the best summer meal I know of for vegetarians and those who love them. Call it the new bacon. Discuss.

For more irrepressible cheese enthusiasm, visit Madame Fromage.

5 Comments

  • Hunter says:
    June 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Wow, the New Bacon! That is about as high a compliment as you can give. Thanks, Tenaya!

  • Amanda says:
    June 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I remember the first time I had burrata. It was at a restaurant in Chicago, and it was served with roasted Brussels sprouts and pancetta. Haven’t forgotten about burrata since then, I’ll have to try it with the oil/salt/bread combo! Thanks for the tip :)

  • Goodbye Spring Dinner: Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Berries « Breadwinner says:
    June 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    [...] Strawberry and Basil Salad  [in case you haven't heard, burrata is quite the "in" thing right now–this was my excuse to serve [...]

  • Michael Coffey says:
    June 29, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Can’t wait to try your burrata and see how it stacks up against the Di Stefano Burrata from Cali…

  • Kathy McCarthy says:
    July 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Yummy – I had Belgiosio’s Burrata in Wisconsin and it is so decadent. With tomatoes soon in season, I love the traditional Caprese Salad with this unforgettable cheese! I like the “new bacon” comment.

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