We went to a small Italian restaurant called Casa Tua for lunch on Saturday. It's in the San Francisco neighborhood of Panama City.
The waiter told us about a cheese called burrata, which he said was similar to a fresh mozzarella di bufala. When it arrived, it was about the size of a softball, shaped like a small jewelry pouch, and looked just like its mozzarella cousin. When I sliced it, though, it had a slightly wet creamy interior. It was paired with tomatoes marinated in aged balsamic vinegar and pieces of arugula. When I took a bite, the heavens opened and a host of angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus. How could it be that I--a foodie extraordinaire--had never tasted this bit of heaven before? The thick almost-liquid center made me think of a molten lava cake made of cold cheese.
We savored every bite of the burrata. My sweetheart put it on his Italian bread, but I ate it as-is, enjoying the buttery flavor of the burrata's creamy center. Everything about it was perfect. The waiter told us an Italian artisan made this Southern-Italy cheese for them. It has a mozzarella exterior to hold it together, and the interior is made of cream and leftover mozzarella curd. It needs to be eaten within 24 hours of being made and is considered past its prime after a mere 48 hours.
The restaurant price was $18 for the burrata appetizer, but if we wanted to take it home, it was only $16 without the tomatoes & arugula. Now let me be honest. I'm not sure I would have paid $18 for a ball of cheese had I seen it on the menu, so I'm forever grateful that I didn't know the price ahead of time. It was so amazing that we bought another burrata ball to take home. Was it worth $34 for two balls of burrata? You betcha. Every last penny. In fact, even though I ate the last of it for breakfast this morning, I'm still craving more.
After doing some research about this amazing culinary creation called burrata, I've come to realize that it's a hot food trend all over the world. I understand why people go nuts over it, but I doubt it's a fad. Once you taste this cheese, you'll be asking for it by name and searching for it in every gourmet food store you know.
Until you can find it locally, go to Casa Tua in Panama City and give it a try. Your taste buds will thank you.