M is for mozzarella di bufala campana DOP:
Mozzarella cheese has been carried around the world gracing the hot surface of pizza. But, real mozzarella is much more than the bags of shredded pizza cheese and the hard, flavorless, white balls of industrially-produced mozzarella. Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP is creamy, soft and moist, with a delicately stringy texture, and a milky, slight tangy flavor. Bufala means “buffalo,” and it is from the water buffalo’s milk, which is richer in fat and protein than cow’s milk, that the flavors and high quality derive.
The Y-shaped seams are visible on these Mozzarella di bufala di campana DOP
Mozzarella is formed by curdling the milk with natural lactic acid bacteria already present and the addition of natural rennet (an enzyme found in the stomachs of bovines, or animals with four digestive stomachs). Industrial producers use citric acid instead of rennet, which extends the shelf life at the expense of texture and flavor. Once the whey and curd are separated, the curd is immersed in heated water, where it falls to the bottom in a mass and is gathered, stretched and kneaded with a paddle. This process creates a stretched cheese, called pasta filata. At this point, mozzarella-making becomes an art: the cheese maker must not stretch it too much, or it will lose butterfat, flavor and texture; nor too little, or it will be crumbly. It is simple to spot artisanal mozzarella: Once it is stretched perfectly, pieces are pinched off of the paddles (mozzare means “to pinch”). If pinched by hand, a Y-shaped seam is visible on the surface. Finally, mozzarella is packed in brine, water or whey in a vacuum-sealed container. Because it is a fresh cheese, it should be eaten within a few days and ideally not refrigerated.
Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP, granted DOP status in 1996, is a Campania specialty. The water buffalo was introduced to the region in the Middle Ages. Today, water buffalo population in Italy exceeds 100,000. It became widespread in southern Italy by 1700, its freshness making it impossible to transport much beyond that. It slowly gained recognition and popularity as a traditional pizza topping, and mozzarella made from cow’s milk gradually spread beyond Italy. Mozzarella di bufala is traditional and of highest quality, but there are many other delicious versions. These include boconccini, small balls marinated in olive oil and herbs; mozzarella affumicata, smoked mozzarella; manteca, mozzarella molded around butter; mozzarella burrata, a creamy conglomeration of shreds of mozzarella soaked with panna (heavy cream) and encased in a knot of mozzarella; fior di latte, mozzarella made with cow’s milk; and treccie, a rare form of mozzarella from Caserta that looks hard, but is full of cream.
One of the best ways to try many types of mozzarella is to attend a festa di mozzarella. Here are two annual festivals, one to put on the calendar for next year, and the other to attend in exactly one month:
Festa della Mozzarella
July 27 – 31
Associazione Socio-Culturale Pizzolano
2000 Via S. Lorenzo, 8 Fisciano (SA)
La Grande Bufala
May 28 – June 5
Via Matteotti, 30
84025 Eboli (SA)
Signs for dairy outlets are common alongside roads and highways in Naples. To be sure you are enjoying the highest quality, real mozzarella, watch for DOP.
Ristorante Pizzeria Bocconcì
Via Lepanto, 142
80045 Pompei, (NA)
M is for Mastroberardino:
Mastroberardino Vino Rosso - Taurasi Radici DOCG
The Mastroberardino winery is arguably the most well-known name in Campania wines, and represents one of the region’s best areas for growing grapes: Avellino. This winery was officially found in Atripalda in 1878, though has been in existence since 1750. Until very recently, the wines of Campania had not been well-known (or known at all) outside of the region. In 1970, in fact, only three wineries in Campania produced commercial wine. Mastroberardino was the only one known outside of Campania, and has been instrumental in popularizing some of the most traditional grape varieties. Before that, from the 1930s to the 1950s, some of the oldest grape varieties of Campania nearly did not have a chance to make a comeback, when the phylloxera louse and devastation from World War II led to the near-extinction of Greco, Fiano, and Aglianico. It is in large part thanks to the tireless efforts of the Mastroberardino winery that these grapes were given a chance to thrive and produce the top-quality wines they make today.
The mission of the Mastroberardino winery is to preserve the great wines of Campania and to produce the best wines possible from these grapes. The winery represents tradition in its ancient, indigenous grape varieties as well as in the structure of the winery itself, which has been run by ten generations of the Mastroberardino family. It also represents innovation. Piero, the current owner, is not hesitant to continuously experiment and improve with viticulture, blends, and even varieties and clones of grapes such as Coda di Volpe, Fiano, Greco di Tufo and Aglianico. The grape Aglianico, specifically the DOCG Taurasi Aglianico, has been the backbone of Mastroberardino. It is on this grape variety and its 100% varietal expression in their wines that the winery has built and maintained its reputation for high quality.
The estate produces a large variety of wines, including white wines Greco di Tufo Nova Serra, Fiano di Avellino Radici, and Falanghina Morabianca; and red wines Taurasi Naturalis Historia and Lacryma Cristi del Vesuvio, also a white wine. The DOCG wines are Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, Irpinia, Sannio, and Taurasi.The Taurasi reaches full expression in the 1986 Taurasi Riserva DOCG and Rosso Radici DOCG. The Taurasi Riserva is the estate’s most historically significant wine. It is a full-bodied wine with an aroma of plums, raisins and anise, with floral notes that melt into dark fruits like cherry and plum spiced with black pepper. Rosso Radici DOCG has a rich, ruby hue with an aroma full of violets and spiced cherries, and flavors again of black pepper and fruits. The name Radici, which means “roots,” embodies Mastroberardino’s values of typicality and tradition.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the wines of Mastroberardino.
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Storia e Origine. Mozzarella di Buffala Campana DOP.