Friday, January 29, 2010

Burrata from Andria, Puglia

Only a short drive inland from Trani lays the town of Andria.  We were excited to meet N in her hometown, but the real reason we had to stop here before heading back to Milan?

The burrata.

You see, Andria is the birthplace of the burrata, the rich and creamy cousin of the mozzarella.

I first met the burrata during my very first visit to Italy some years ago.  S knew of a shop that made them fresh in Milan.  It was sweet and creamy, a sort of mozzarella inside a mozzarella, and it left a indelible inprint in my memory.  Not all mozarella is created equal and a good burrata outside of Puglia is even harder to find.  Now here we were where the burrata was invented.  And if there's one thing I've learnt in Italy, it's that nothing is ever as good than at its source.  There's something about the air, the ingredients, the craftsmanship that is impossible to replicate elsewhere.

We picked up N outside her home and she led us to her favorite caseificio or dairy store.  As we drove through the town, we saw countless of caseificio's, many of them packed with people.  But we were excited and confident that N was taking us to the best of the best.

We arrived at the store to find this.  The locals sure love their cheese.

While waiting, I looked at the price list of their offerings.

And studied the contents of the glass cases.

But the real action was happening behind the counter in the laboratory.  There were several cheesemakers hard at work making the various fresh cheeses.  The burratas were definitely being made fresh to order.  Hence the long wait.  We watched as one cheesemaker painstakingly forms each ball of mozzarella with his hands, and then stretches it to form a small pouch.  He then fills it with cream and stracciatella, which is basically shredded mozarella strands left to soak in cream.  Finally, he closes the pouch with a knot on top.


We picked up a selection of burrata, stracciatella and ricotta cheese.  We told them we were traveling and they packaged it all neatly with some ice in a styrofoam box.  I suppose it is not such an uncommon request.  It took 45 minutes to get out the door with our purchases but we were happy campers.  Here we are outside the store with our friend N, proudly holding the prized goods. 

And here's a picture of the lovely milky burrata on our kitchen table the day after. 

It was definitely worth the trouble.

Caseificio Domenic Asseliti E De Fato
Andria, Puglia

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