Monday, November 30, 2009

Cheese of the Week: Mozzarella di Buffala

It seems like my iPhone lost the post and never published it online. This is a short reproduction.

Cow's, goat's, and ewe's milk are the most commonly used type of milk in cheesemaking. However, cheese is also produced from the milk of other animals. Camel, Mare, Yak and Water Buffalo are other types. The most famous of these other four in the 'west' is Water Buffalo and perhaps the most famous cheese made with this milk is Mozzarella di Buffala.

This cheese has an Italian DO and is mostly produced in Lazio and Campania. The cheese is in the pasta filata category and is always eaten fresh. A smoked version also exist, and it is the main ingredient in pizza made in Naples.

The story of this cheese is full of myths. The most famous involving the Second World War, the Nazis and new herds of Water Buffalos. According to the story, Mozzarella stopped being produced after the war because all water buffalos were killed by the withdrawing fascist troops.
Apparently, the troops got orders to destroy the livelihoods of the farmers and this meant the killing of all farm animals. Soon after the establishment of the new republic, a herd of water buffalos was brought from South East Asia and production restarted.

In North America, only one producer uses water buffalo milk. The Vermort di Buffala company used to produce an ok mozzarella out of their facility in Woodstock, Vermont. However, since they move to Quebec in Canada, I have not seen any of their cheeses.

In New York you can get cow's milk mozzarella in most delis. They are normally produced somewhere in Brooklyn or are hand pulled in the kitchen. However, it is possible to find the water buffalo version in a couple of places. They normally come in a little green plastic bag with some whey to conserve them fresh. But if you want to eat them really fresh and are willing to put up with the guilt of a heavy carbon foot-print product, the best option is the Mozzarella bar in midtown.

The place is Obika and they have fresh Mozzarella di Buffala imported weekly from Italy. The flavor is milky with a tangyness distinctive of this milk. They also have a nice selection of meats and salads. I will be taking my partner to celebrate his birthday, and I will be taking a lactaid to be able to consume so much lactose.

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