Wednesday 31 January 2007

The Best Mozzarella in the World......

..........comes from a 'biological' (whatever that may be) dairy called Vannulo, just outside the gates to Paestum. Both the Mozzarella and the Ricotta produced by Vannulo are quite exceptional - and once you've tasted either cheese, your benchmarks for 'good' as regards either product will have been radically altered. Permanently. The taste and creaminess is so remarkable that even hardened afficianados of italian cheese have been reduced to awed silence at their first taste - I know; I've witnessed it....

I have no idea whether it is the quality of the Buffalo milk which is responsible - presumably having been reared by 'biological' methods makes some difference to the quality of their output - or some wrinkle in the way that the cheeses are made. I suspect herds of Buffalo in Italy are few and far between these days, so I wonder if in fact what Vannulo produces is what Mozzarella and Ricotta used to taste like (I know....that old line again.....see earlier references to Felchlin chocolate...possibly I'm getting old) and our palates have merely become accustomed to what passes for 'good' these days, instead of what it used to be? Certainly, I can remember - when I first visited Paestum in the sixties, before it became such an item on the tourist landscape - there were rather grubby looking herds of Buffalo wallowing aimlessly pretty much everywhere you looked in that part of the World. Last time I was there, about five years ago, I don't recall seeing any at all.....

Anyway, I'm afraid this post is by way of being a 'so near, and yet so far', since I can tell you about Vannulo, but there's no way short of going there that you can lay your hands on any of their cheese. They don't distribute it, they won't send it, they have no outlets.......apart from on their own premises. I've tried all methods I can think of to get hold of it in Tuscany, all to no avail. The only possibility appears to be to queue up at their gates, and to buy it directly from the dairy, in person. Which is no awful hardship, but not entirely practical.... We've only enjoyed it hitherto by dint of some friends from Milan who have a house near Paestum, and who generously drop off a care package when they pass back through on their journey north (the cheese comes packed in a polystyrene box, accompanied by hushed instructions to 'eat it today - it won't keep'.......which isn't entirely true, but there's never any left after a couple of days anyway.) I'll put a link to Vannulo's website in the side bar. Good luck.....!

Tonight's Dinner:

Palline di Melanzane e Mozzarella (Aubergine fritters stuffed with Mozzarella - di Bufala, but not di Vannulo, sadly.....)

Swordfish Steaks with Salmoriglio Sauce.

Lemon and Almond Tart - see below for the recipe.

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