By Johnna Rizzo
A soft-cheese specialty of southern Italy, burrata—"burro" means "butter" in Italian, so you know off the bat this cheese is going to be good—consists of a soft skin of fresh mozzarella. But don’t be fooled by the springy exterior: When you crack open the shell, unspun mozzarella curds create an irresistible river of creaminess, unparalleled in other fresh mozzarella varieties. Traditionally a buffalo milk concoction, many modern takes on burrata are made of cow’s milk. Either way, the delicate cheese generally comes wrapped in leek leaves, so it’s easy to spot on specialty stores shelves lucky enough to stock it, including some Cowgirl Creameries and the occasional Whole Foods.
Where Can I Find It?
Most restaurants ship it from Italy overnight, so it’s definitely under the category of indulgence. Hip Bowery spot Gemma in NYC offers up a relatively affordable salad of burrata, grape tomatoes and basil for $10; in Key Biscayne, Florida, get the creamy cheese with green beans and extra virgin olive oil at Cioppino for $14; topping the decadence charts is a $22 antipasti served with pancetta and arugula at Tony Mantuano tony Spiagga on the Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Besides being blessed with no less than five burrata ordering options at famed chef Mario Batali’s newly-opened partnership Osteria Mozza (featuring a mozzarella bar--Burrata with grilled asparagus, brown butter, guanciale & Sicilian almonds $16; Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole & caramelized shallots $15; Burrata with leeks vinaigrette & mustard breadcrumbs $14; Burrata with prosciutto di Parma $15; Burrata with speck, peas & mint), the lucky inhabitants of LA are just a quick drive from burrata Valhalla—Vito Girardi’s Gioia Cheese Co. in El Monte.
Girardi was the first person to produce burrata locally in the US. Straight from the retail source at Gioia, it is a steal at $5 a pound. Angelenos can also look for Gioia's burrata at Bristol Farms stores; Wally's Wine & Spirits; Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, and at Silver Lake’s Cardone’s Italian Deli, already done up for you sandwich style.
Burrata at Home!
Best way of all to enjoy it? Grab a bottle of your favorite wine and cop a squat in the great outdoors. The freshest of cheeses (this baby has a shelf life of about two days, so what better excuse do you need to scarf more than you probably should) is best enjoyed al fresco. And for the love of all things decadently creamy, please stay off the range. This delicate cheese will be destroyed by adding heat.
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