Burrata and the Seattle Cheese FestivalBy Ron Post
February 19, 2019
In over fifteen years of exploring Italy’s hinterlands, back roads, and mountain trails we are continuously amazed by its vast diversity of food and drink. To date, upwards of 1,500 different wines can be found in the Italian market (one in five Italians makes his/her own wine), each one of them conceived as part of aregionally significant, flavor-balanced combination of wine and food.
The most common basic accompaniment to Italian wines are its cheeses. From the high mountain pastures of Alto Adige to the southeaster tip of Sicily, we have found delicious local cheeses, each one with its own story. As an example, in June 2007 we had the opportunity to visit the Caseificio Olanda in Puglia, a renowned artisan maker of burrata, a fresh, pliable, cow’s milk cheese similar at first glance to fresh mozzarella. Though burrata (“buttery”) is a regional specialty insoutheastern Puglia, Caseificio Olanda now uses optimum quality, fresh cow’s milk trucked in every morning from mountain pastures in the north. Upon arrival at the caseficio the milk is heated, then it is formed into curds. The curds are fashioned into large, pearly sheets, then, at this point, artisan magic occurs: The pearly sheets are sliced into pliable sections, immersed in basins of whey, then masterfully transformed into small, open-ended “cheese pouches,” each pouch containing a drop of fresh milk in its center and a knob-like tag of fresh cheese at its top. The tags are used to tie up these pouches, sealing in their creamy centers and giving the burrata a creamy finish from its absorption of the fresh milk.
These cheeses are like soft versions of Carrara marble-ivory-white, yet as silky and smooth as the velvety milk from which they are made.
Suggestion: Cut open a burrata over some fresh greens and drizzle with some peppery extra virgin olive oil. This is simple, regional Italian food that exalts the rich flavors of its pure, raw materials. Or do as Chef Walter Pisano of Tulio Ristorante in Seattle does and elaborate a bit by arranging some fresh heirloom tomato slices beside the burrata, and sprinkling with basil-infused salt.
Join RITROVO® in its exaltation of simple regional Italian food at the Seattle Cheese Festival where we will feature fresh (American) burrata with condiments such as:
Tenuta Cocevola DOP Terra di Bari Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Taralli Crackers
Michele Ferrante Controne Hot Pepper
Mastri di San Basilio Organic Sicilian Oregano
Casina Rossa “& Salts” including the debut of “Fiori & Salt”