One of the most iconic foods of the Naples area is
MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA.
No bones about it-when you are here you better be trying the moz. Campania is the epicenter of the mozzarella di bufala production. Those who are used to eating conventional ‘mozzarella’ style cheese in America or elsewhere should be prepared to enter into a new galaxy of cheesedom when trying this.
It is simply a product that is difficult to obtain elsewhere. First of all, you should eat mozzarella the same day it is produced. It stays “good” for eight days, but no Neapolitan would ever eat it after the second day. Second reason it’s so hard to find: no one else can make it. Attempts have been made elsewhere in the world to reproduce this wonderful cheese, but no one can even come close to what is made here. No one knows why, but it just seems like it can’t be made elsewhere. By the way, the full name is Mozzarella di bufala DOP, whereas DOP guarantees that it is a product made within a specified geographic area.
Today was a day full of mozzarella-and we aren’t done yet! After hitting up the temples at Paestum, we took the Mozzarella Highway back up to Salerno. The SS 18 runs straight through the main mozzarella producing areas of the region; the road is like 100 miles of pure mozzarella and fun.
Our first stop was Tenuta Vannulo. This is a rather large and well-known producer that has cashed in on the uniqueness of bufala products. At their farm, you can take a tour of the grounds and see how the cheese is made. We opted to just take a look around ourselves and man, was that fun. We got super close to the bufale. They are really friendly animals that seem to love human attention. They love to have their picture taken and work surprisingly well with the camera!
From there, we went to the store to buy our mozzarella made from organic bufala milk. Unfortunately, there were a few school groups there so the wait was pretty long. It was cool to see the ladies behind the counter slinging mozzarella, taping up boxes and running around like crazy-all with a smile on their faces. We got some to take home for dinner and four small balls to eat right there. People, if you haven’t had the experience of biting into a fresh mozzarella di bufala on a warm spring day with all the milk running down your hands, I highly suggest you do! Vannulo’s mozzarella is really delicious. The texture is soft, but not gummy, and filled with lots of milk. There is the heavenly taste of bufala milk mixed with a touch of salt.
For dessert, we treated ourselves to a freshly made brioche bun with ice cream! This is a southern Italian speciality that Vannulo excels at, mostly because their brioche is homemade! We topped ours with pistachio and cream gelati. Could you think of a better way to spend 3 euro?! I also bought a vanilla yogurt, which I will be trying out tomorrow for breakkie.
After Vannulo, we made our way to Caseficio Lettieri. Actually, we randomly decided to stop there because there are just so many different stores to choose from! Here, we got two more little balls to try out. These, in my opinion, were actually better than Vannulo’s. The cheese here had a definitely kick to it thanks to more salt, making it an all around tastier. However, they didn’t seem to catch out as much milk as the ones from Vannulo.
Oh, no, I’m not done yet! We stopped at a final producer in Battipaglia after asking a random guy on the street for a suggestion as to where to go. He told us to look for a certain Caseficio Jemma, so we did. Here, they sell cheese, yogurt, and bufala meat too. (It is supposed to be high in iron, yet lower in fat, total calories, and cholesterol than beef!) You can imagine what we did…two balls each for a taste test! This was by far my favorite of the mozzarelle. I made a huge mess on the bench outside because ample milk was just running out of that cheese like crazy. The texture was super soft and the salt level was just perfect. We ended up getting smoked provola, mozzarella, a yogurt and a burrata there for 20 euro.
Guess what is for dinner tonight?! Yes, you got it-more mozzarella. I plan on eating as much of this as humanly possible in the next 25 days! When visiting Italy, I would highly suggest taking a day trip to seek out this amazing product. Of course you can sit down at a restaurant and try mozzarella di bufala, but it’s way more rewarding to try it right where it is made. Plus, driving down the Mozzarella Highway gives you a pretty interesting look into life in southern Italy. It’s not all Amalfi and Capri around here, you know, and the small cities along SS18 give you a glimpse into what it’s really like.
Who out there has tried mozzarella di bufala? Did you enjoy it or did the taste turn you off? Let me know, I’d love to hear!