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June 21st is the beginning of summer. The beginning of summer! The great outdoors, the warm sun, water, greenery, patios, balconies, picnics… friends! How I’m longing for all this. In terms of cheese, mozzarella is our best and most reliable summer friend, without any doubt. Who is a she, stemming from the regions of Lazio and Campania, from south of Rome down to the Gulf of Salerno south of Naples, made from the milk of water buffalos who like marshy regions. Which is why our friend mozzarella is always a mozzarella di bufala, although it is perfectly possible to apply the same production method to cows’ milk, albeit with a less sweet and less rich result, that is called, at least in Italy, fior di latte.
So: summer, sun, mozzarella. Because she makes for perfect, fast and easy fare on warm days, not only with tomatoes, but also melon, peaches, nectarines, all kinds of fresh herbs and leaves, seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. As usual, the simpler a dish, the more important is the quality of each ingredient. Look out for the finest!
Which means for our summer friend: excellent buffalo milk and handmade. The special texture of pasta filata cheeses (a family that includes scamorza, provolone, cacciocavallo, ragusano amongst others) is due to the fresh curds, forming a kind of rubbery blob, being scalded with very hot water or whey so that they can be stretched like strudel pastry. During this stretching they are constantly folded back into a ball, a bit like when you’re kneading bread, but with much thinner layers – which you notice in your mozzarella, like the skins of an onion. Between which sits a lot of sweet and slightly sour whey, making the cheese juicy and refreshing. A super fresh mozzarella, made that same day, is rather firm and bouncy – some people say it should never be stored in the fridge but eaten straight away. That’s a question of taste: because with time it matures and like all soft cheeses becomes softer and more creamy. And that’s very good too. I wish you a wonderful start into the summer, with loads of light and air and love.
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