The French arenâ€™t the only Europeans with a knack for making delicious cheese. We Italians have offered the world creamy creations for centuries. Our Italian cheese is delicious and versatile, at home atop pasta, pizza, and salads or eaten on our own. Italian is Americaâ€™s favorite foreign cuisine, so itâ€™s no surprise Italyâ€™s signature semi-soft cheeses are often featured in kitchens and restaurants.
To learn more about the stringy, gooey cheeses, we tapped Italian cheese expert and chef Alberto Di Meglio.
Cheese-making started as a family affair for Di Meglio. â€œI remember waking up early growing up and going to the Salumeria with my dad and getting the freshly made cheese that was still warm and eating half of it on the car ride home,â€_x009d_ he said. â€œThis was something I wanted to share with people that might have never experienced this, so I have been making mozzarella for the last 19 years.â€_x009d_
Here, Di Meglio explains three of our favorites and suggests how to serve them at home.
Di Meglio explained that American mozzarella is usually made with cowâ€™s milk and that in Italy, mozzarella made from cowâ€™s milk in Italy is called fior di latte. â€œIt is usually made with whole milk and has a high moisture content,â€_x009d_ he said. The cheeseâ€™s texture is firmer than buffalo mozzarella and slightly off-white. Di Meglio said it should never hit a fridge after it is made; the high-fat content makes it tougher when chilled. â€œThe proper flavor should taste like whole milk,â€_x009d_ he said.
He added: â€œThe Mozzarella we make in the restaurant is pulled to order and sent out warm but served simply with a house-made giardiniera and house farro sourdough bread. The acid in the pickled vegetables goes great with the higher fat content of the cheese.â€_x009d_
Known in Italian as Mozzarella di Bufala, this cheese proves how seriously Italians take their curds and whey. Di Meglio explained that itâ€™s only made with water buffalo milk from Apulia, Campania, Lazio or Molise and has a DOC [ Denominazione di Origine Controllata â€“ Designation of Origin Control], DOP [ Denominazione di Origine Protetta â€“ Protected Designation of Origin] if itâ€™s made in the traditional method from those regions.Di Meglio said T=his cheese will be creamier and spongier than regular mozzarella. â€œIt will also have a slight tangier or sour taste to it because of the water buffalosâ€™ diet,â€_x009d_ he said. â€œIn my opinion, itâ€™s superior to the more neutral flavor and texture of the cowâ€™s milk version.â€_x009d_
He added: â€œMost people want to go with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar with this cheese but I feel it takes away from the beauty of it. I would go with a wood-roasted eggplant served warm, some amazing extra virgin olive oil and Trapanese [Sicilian] sea salt. This will make the mozzarella di bufala the star of the showâ€”as it should be.â€_x009d_
Buratta's a mix of two cheeses that can be done with either cow or buffalo milk. The center is called stracciatella cheese or â€˜little torn ragsâ€™ of cheese. Cream is added to a well-formed piece of mozzarella and sealed so it runs a bit when you cut into it. â€œThis is the â€˜Grand Dameâ€™ of the mozzarellas,â€_x009d_ Di Meglio said
Di Meglioâ€™s go-to pairing ingredients for la burrata are grilled peaches and Thai basil. â€œThe creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness and char of the peaches go great together,â€_x009d_ he said.
This is a dish that both satisfies a sweet and savory tooth in the summer months and will probably make an appearance on our menu very soon.â€_x009d_