The foodies' guide to mozzarella
Fresh Mozzarella di Bufala is one of Italy's best-kept secrets. Read on and find out more about its succulent success and how you can use it to make your mealtimes magic.
Mozzarella is synonymous the world over with pizza , and with that queen of pizzas - Pizza Mar gherita - in particular.
>Mozzarella is a fresh cheese with a fibrous consistency. It is made from pasteurised milk which is separated with rennet. The cheese curds are then left to settle in boiling water before they are drawn, seasoned and shaped. Nowadays you can buy fresh mozzarella from most good food stores and supermarkets.
The Mozzarella trail
Our journey starts in Molise. Production is concentrated in the area around Venafro (in the province of Isernia). Top-quality mozzarella is manufactured all year round.
We then head for the heartland of mozzarella production - Basilicata. Mozzarella from this area is particularly sweet-tasting and is available in four variations: the traditional ball-shape, a plait, a knot, and a maxi-plait - a metre of milky goodness, sold by the slice.
Last, but not least, we go to Calabria, home of the famous mozzarella silana (from the Sila area) which is handmade to order during the summer period.
Fans of mozzarella di bufala have to thank India for their favourite dish as buffaloes came to Italy from eastern India hundreds of years ago.
You can check that the mozzarella you are buying is genuine mozzarella di bufala by looking for the P. D.O . mark. The P.D.O. mark (Protected Designation of Origin) was instituted by the European Commission as a guarantee of the genuine product.
Today mozzarella di bufala is, for the most part, produced in Campania, Lazio and Apulia.
The latter is worth a special mention for its excellent burrata, a mozzarella made from cow's milk and cream.
So there's much more to mozzarella than pizza topping - fresh mozzarella is best eaten on its own seasoned with good olive oil and some salt or in the stunningly simple"capriccio caprese".
Southern Italian cuisine makes ample use of mozzarella. Some of our favourite recipes include mozzarella in carrozza which is typical of Campania and that Neopolitan classic melanzane alla parmigiana, where mozzarella is one of the essential ingredients.
Too good to be ignored, Northern Italian cuisine has adopted this ingredient and made it its own in mozzarella alla milanese, where thick succulent slices of fresh mozzarella are dipped in egg and breadcrumbs then fried in butter: a trip to cholesterol heaven!
The genuine article
If you're in Italy and want to buy the genuine article look no further than the Consorzio per la tutela della mozzarella di bufala campana, or if you can't wait to sink your teeth into the milky-white cheese go straight to the Caseificio Latticini Salernitani.
If you prefer to get your mozzarella delivered to your doorstep then try http://www.quality-tools.com (24/48 hour delivery throughout Europe) or http://www.mozzarelladibufala.org/allestimento.htm (next day delivery throughout Italy). Don't forget to fill in the required forms and make sure that the mozzarella will reach you 2/3 days after it is made - any later and it's just not the same thing