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The cheese worth traveling to Italy for
June 08, 2019
6 min.
One delight that we at Walking Palates will be forever thankful to the people of Apulia (also known as Puglia) is burrata. A cheese in the finest Italian tradition relatively unknown to many. The name means buttery : although burrata has nothing to do with butter and much to do with mozzarella, the name sets the scene for something incredibly creamy that is not found anywhere else in the universe of cheese.

Burrata – a delicatessen that is rare to find

Burrata has a very balanced taste, the experience here is much about the textures. A ball of Burrata has a soft shell made with mozzarella, but then cut it open and you have a creamy center that melts in the mouth. It runs like thick, rich cream, mixed with gentle stripes of mozzarella, and together these two wonderful textures create a buttery sensation that sets fresh Burrata cheese apart as an experience of its own.

A taste of Puglia

Traditional Burrata is made by hand in Puglia, the region that forms the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s made from fresh cow milk – although there’s also a version with Buffalo milk taken from the herds that graze the lush slopes of the region.
The curd is spun by hand. Once the right texture is achieved, the curd mixture is formed into a pocket, forming the shell. That sumptuous creamy middle? That is a mix of fresh cream and stripes of mozzarella, a magic mix achieved through experience, skilled eye and competent touch. The creamy filling is inserted into the middle of the pouch before the opening is knitted shut to create the ball shape that we are familiar with.
The story goes that, at the beginning of the last century, a cheese maker who got stuck with his herd in a mountain shelter by an unexpected snowfall, devoid of tools, invented it as a way not to throw away the milk, making a cheese that doesn’t need a container to be transported or stocked.

The result is a delicious but delicate flavor that will be a highlight of your meal. Puglia is the very best place to eat Burrata Italian cheese, where it is fresh and readily available. Plus, Puglia is the only place where – if one is very lucky – it is possible to find the smoked version and the very first version, folded into leaves of a local herb called asfodelo that enriches it with a slightly pungent aftertaste. The miniature version of burrata, known as burratina, has a slightly harder shell and relatively less filling.

A trip to the Heel

Burrata is not easily found outside of Puglia, the place where it was born, although in recent years its popularity has been rising and so is its availability all around Italy. Puglia itself is a wonderful region to visit, and while Burrata is worth the journey by itself, the entire area is an experience to remember, especially for foodies. From the wonderful coast to the Daunian Mountains, it is a region with pockets of lush greenery dotted through spectacular scenery and surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches and seas in the whole Italian peninsula. From wonderful castles to archeological findings going back to the Greek empire, it has a rich cultural history that provides plenty for the visitor to explore. Plus, it is home of some of the most incredible recipes and dishes. In many respects, Puglia is like its native Burrata cheese: refreshing, wonderful on the outside, but even more interesting the deeper you delve.

How to use it

It should be served at room temperature, and it must be no more than a couple of days old when eaten. It is great to eat with fresh tomatoes, on bread and drizzled with olive oil. A perfect lunchtime snack or aperitivo. It also works fabulously with berries or honeydew melon, where the textures act as a wonderful contrast that is a joy to eat. Ravioli with Burrata is perhaps the best-known dish using this wonderful cheese, added raw on top of the ravioli. The same goes with other kinds of basta, risotto and pizza.

Moreover, nowadays local traditions are more known and chefs have started using it in countless ways. Here are some combinations that we hope we’ll get to describe you soon in more details, in new posts of our blog. Some are pretty unusual, but as you know, we are adventurous testers of incredible combinations! That’s why we’ve tried burrata with shrimps, prawns, octopus, tuna, in a risotto with figs, with broad-beans, peas, squid, prosciutto, anchovies, mussels, ginger and much more.
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