I jumped the gun on tomatoes this week because I was so anxious to try the BelGioioso burrata I bought in the deli at Trattoria Trullo (newly reviewed this week). Burrata is a fresh, fragile cow’s milk mozzarella, native to Puglia. It’s comprised of an outer shell, more like a bag, of mozzarella that’s filled with cream and scraps of more mozzarella, left over from the cheesemaking process. The name burrata refers to its buttery creaminess.
For some reason this is only on the lunch menu at Trullo. When I asked our waitress for it at dinner, she had no clue what it was (she didn’t know what Maker’s Mark was either), and even when I got up from the table and pointed it out to her in the deli case she refused to forward the request.
Sooooo, with the extra money from my tip budget, I bought a container for $9.76 a few days later. According to Steven Jenkins’s Cheese Primer, burrata is properly wrapped in asphodel leaves, which impart a subtle aroma to the cheese. BelGioioso, of Denmark, Wisconsin, which makes a full line of Italian cheeses, packages its burrata in water. The eight-ounce ball of cheese I took home was so delicate I punctured the bag part just trying to lift it from its container, and I couldn’t stop myself from envisioning some plastic surgery disaster.
Still, I managed to capture all the creamy goodness that seeped forth, laying slices of what I believe were early Mr. Stripey tomatoes from Nichols Farm across the puddle. The cheese lost all form in slicing and I was left with soft curd, cream, and more solid bits of cheese to top my slices. I sprinkled shredded basil and black lava salt from Cyprus, drizzled on some Spanish olive oil, and then stood back to admire just about the prettiest caprese salad I’d ever seen.
This luxurious cheese fully lives up to its hype but deserves better tomatoes than the dull heirlooms I bought too anxiously. In a few more weeks the farmer’s markets should have the right ones.