Caprese: Making the Most of Mozzarella

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Why the name caprese in the first place? As is often the case, it's named for its place of origin, in this case the Mediterranean isle of Capri, off the coast of Naples, a simple salad of tomatoes and local cheese, mozzarella. Campania, the region surrounding Naples, is known throughout the world for the fresh, often handmade cheese produced from the milk of local water buffalo, officially certified mozzarella di bufala. This is heavenly stuff, simultaneously tart and rich with butterfat; it bears little resemblance to the processed, shredded and bagged product that ends up strewn on inferior pizzas. Three-ounce balls of mozzarella di bufala aren't cheap; even the Costco version (yes, Costco!) costs three or four bucks apiece. There's a middle ground, called Fior di Latte, made from cow's milk, that's neither chalky nor plastic, perfectly acceptable and half the price.

We've enjoyed caprese salads all summer, most recently as an heirloom tomato salad at Steelhead Diner, where it was dressed with both pesto and saba (a wine reduction). In Palermo, Sicily, earlier this year, Cornichon enjoyed a superb caprese at an outdoor café. Easy to do at home, as long as you use the right ingredients: firm tomatoes, highest quality olive oil. Seattle's ultimate Italian Mamma, Enza Sorrentino, explained it all to her cooking students this week at La Mondellina in Magnolia: you can read the recipe here and watch the video here.

Steelhead Diner, 95 Pine St., 206-625-0129   Steelhead Diner on Urbanspoon
La Mondellina, 3111 W. McGraw, 206-282-4423   La Mondellina on Urbanspoon

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on September 13, 2009 10:31 AM.

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In the Beginning: Let There Be Light is the next entry in this blog.

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