It’s no surprise that New Yorkers are accustomed to having the best of global cuisine at their fingertips. Burrata, a farm-fresh cheese imported directly from Southern Italy, is just the latest culinary trend to make it across the pond and onto our plates. The current darling ingredient of New York City chefs and foodies, burrata has been popping up in menu items everywhere — from salads and sandwiches to appetizers and entrees.
Burrata, which means “buttery” in Italian, has a smooth, soft texture and a rich flavor, and is made from mozzarella and cream. Although it isn’t tied to a particular season in its native Italy, burrata is most often found on the East Coast of the U.S. in the summertime — which means you’re bound to come across it over the next few months, if not make it one of your summer staples. But before you dig in, here are five fast facts about this Italian delight:
1. Most delicious leftovers ever
Burrata originated in Southern Italy’s Apulia region, an area known for its agriculture and sheep farming, in the early 20th century. It was initially dreamed up as a way to use the extra curds left over from making mozzarella.
2. More cream, more flavor
The round, firm outside shell of the cheese — made of buffalo and/or cow’s milk mozzarella — makes it resemble a mozzarella ball. But when the shell is cut, the soft, doughy interior of curd and fresh cream oozes out. This creamy interior is even said to give the cheese a more forceful flavor than mozzarella, since it continues to age and ferment while still inside the shell.
3. Like mozzarella, but different
The production of burrata is similar to that of mozzarella, at least in the beginning: both start out as freshly pulled, pasteurized cow milk curds and then go through a process that involves cutting, kneading, stretching, pulling, and being plunged into hot whey twice over. But the similarities end there: the hot cheese is then formed into burrata’s classic pouch shape and filled with scraps of leftover mozzarella and fresh cream before being closed up.
4. Package makes perfect
Asphodel leaves, from the fronds of an Italian plant closely related to the leek, are typically used to wrap burrata. The leaves also indicate the freshness of the cheese, because both last about the same amount of time: if the leaves are green and soft, the cheese is in its prime.
5. Time to eat
Because it is so highly perishable, burrata is best served at room temperature and should be enjoyed immediately: it’s best eaten within 24 hours, and after 48, it is said to be past its prime and will begin to dry out. Often served with crunchy bread, burrata also complements simple salads and crispy vegetables.
Where to find it
Inspired to try fresh burrata without boarding a plane to The Boot? Some of Reserve’s NYC restaurant partners incorporate the latest popular staple into a variety of seasonal dishes:
At this globally-inspired New American restaurant In TriBeCa, diners can choose from Long Island sea salt-topped burrata on a small pool of fruity olive oil or a burrata flatbread accompanied by balsamic vinegar, wild arugula, garlic and chili flakes.