02-10-2014 | 20.40
Seize the opportunity if you are a fan of burrata, the Italian cheese that is probably the planet’s best. Whereas anywhere else it is considered to be a spring or summer dish, Trouw will be serving burrata until the very last day of its existence! Not many people realize that this miracle of a cheese can be eaten all year round. Time to catch up with Marco Sotgiu, the guy who provides Trouw with the best Italian products. He is giving us a short lecture on why burrata is such a special cheese indeed.
Marco Sotgiu is the owner of an Italian company called Madisons, based in Hillegom, a little Dutch town near Leiden. For more than 30 years he has been roaming Italy in search of the best produce, whether it is tomatoes, olives, cheeses, wines or bread. Many of the producers have become Marco’s friends and he only buys stuff he would eat himself or serve his own family. Every week he delivers more than 20 kilograms of burrata to Trouw’s kitchen. It is an understatement to say that this Italian specialty is being appreciated. Guests devour it! Last season it was served with juicy tomatoes, a cream of spinach and avocado, and a sprinkle of olive oil on top. Creamy and succulent as no other cheese, it is even a dish to die for without all the magnificent toppings. But what exactly is burrata (literally ‘butter’)? Marco Sotgiu explains.
“Burrata is made out of extremely fresh mozzarella. Not the mozzarella di bufala, but the one made of cow milk. That is important to notice, because the tastes are totally different. The process is simple. The cheese maker dips milky curds into hot water so that they become real soft. He then kneads them into a ball, and there you have your mozzarella. To make a burrata there are two more steps. First a hole is made into the mozzarella, second the hole is stuffed with curd scraps and a fresh, almost liquid cream cheese called stracciatella. The whole package is sealed up by twisting the mozzarella together in a little knot, and there you have your burrata.”
So you need cow milk, cream cheese and a cheese maker. Simple indeed. Why go all the way to Italy, since we have all these fantastic dairy products and skilled cheese makers in Holland too? Marco smiles politely. “My burrata comes from an ecological farm called Querceta in Putignano, in the very south of Italy. The cheese makers have been standing in a long family tradition: to me they are true artists. Their cows only eat a unique mix of grass and particular herbs. That is what defines the taste of the milk and thus the burrata. Freshness is key. The burrata’s are made on Thursday and sent to Verona the following day, from where they are being distributed. As a result I am able to deliver fresh burrata’s to my Dutch customers on Monday.”
When it comes to burrata size does matter, according to Marco. “Most burrata’s come in servings of 100 or 200 grams. Nice, but not as succulent as a big burrata of, let’s say, 600 grams. That one is bursting with stracciatella. Actually it is a dish that shines on its own. You don’t need tomatoes or rucola, not even basil or olive oil. Just a piece of good bread on the side, like pane di Altamura from Bari, the same region where my burrata comes from. Pure and simple.”
Last but not least: burrata is produced all year round. According to Marco the cow milk reaches its optimum in May, but even in wintertime the milk and the cheese that is made of it are of outstanding quality.
Marco’s tip: before serving it, rinse the burrata with warm tap water for about one minute, to allow the flavours to come out. Buon apetito!
Text: Bonita van Lier