Sunday, February 24, 2013

My own version of delicious burrata



Burrata is a slice of heaven on earth.

It's available in many places, but it's virtually impossible to get the really good and fresh stuff in Asia. And if there's one food thing that really rocks my world, this is it.

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MELTY IN THE MOUTH

The best I've ever tasted came from a farm just outside Napoli, with a small retail outlet on the roadside nearby.

That was literally freshly made from a few hours ago, and it was soft, dripping with goodness and just gooey and melty in the mouth.



We were on our way by car to the Amalfi Coast from Napoli, and we'd stopped at this roadside farm stand, bought a package of burrata each. We simply drizzled it with the best olive oil possible in those parts, and the sprinkled it with sea salt.

That alone is worth another trip to Amalfi.

MY BEST BURRATA LAST YEAR

My Italian meal at the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague
began with a plate of oysters and this wonderful burrata.

In recent memory, the best I've tasted has been over an Italian meal at the Four Seasons Prague.

I'd seen it on the menu so I'd ordered it.

It was as close to that Napoli burrata as I could imagine. I ordered two servings for myself and spirinkled it with olive oil and salt, and I was literally in foodie heaven.




I don't think I spoke for 30 minutes as I wanted to concentrate and remember everything about this wonderful burrata.

LOGISTICS IS EVERYTHING

How could the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague get such a wonderful burrata, you may be asking.

I'm sure they have their choice suppliers. But logistics also played a part. It matters very much whether air freight is involved in any way, as every minute on a plane changes that burrata in some way, IMHO.

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In Tokyo, and in Hong Kong perhaps, upmarket food stores will sell "fresh burrata."

But for a purist like me, a burrata that's been air freighted for 24 hours isn't that fresh anymore. It's still good, but you can tell that something has changed it forever because the consistency is chewy rather than melty, and lots of that oozing liquid has dried up.

Still, better than nothing. So when I see one of good quality at a store in Tokyo, I usually buy it.

THE BURRATA LAST WEEKEND

Over last weekend, in Tokyo living a Travelife, I saw a "fresh burrata" in the expat supermarket.



I knew that it could never be as good as the ones "fresh off the farm" or at most "fresh off the truck" in Italy, and certain places in Europe.

But I bought it anyway, knowing this was as fresh as it was going to get in Asia.

MY VERSION OF THE BURRATA

Yesterday, this was what I did with it. It's quite the usual way, but it's what I do anyway.

This is still the Four Seasons Prague burrata...

1) First I brought the burrata down to room temperature.


2) Then I drizzled the best extra virgin olive oil I could find.

Quality does matter here, and artisanal olive oil of the highest quality is really worlds apart from commercial kinds.


3) Then I added a dash of pepper, and sprinkled freshly crushed sea salt on it.

There are all kinds of good sea salt, but I personally like the rock-type sea salt from Camargue, in France, which I then put in a salt mill and grind.



4) I served this on a bed of a mixture of Italian basil leaves, chopped up Italian vine tomatoes and fruit tomatoes.

Again, I'm not sure how many places sell fresh vine tomatoes and fruit tomatoes from Italy in Asia. In Tokyo, however, you can buy these at the expat supermarkets sometimes.



On the side, I served this with some real French bread that's just been heated slightly.

People don't usually heat French bread in France, but I find I like it this way, especially with burrata.

REAL FRENCH BREAD IN TOKYO

And again, we're rather spoiled in Tokyo.

Here you can really get bread from France, or bread baked in a boulangerie in Tokyo that uses only French flour, French salt and French butter. So the latter is almost better than the bread flown in from France.

I get my "real French bread" that's made in Tokyo from the Viron Boulangerie in Shibuya.

So there you have it. My own version of a little piece of heaven in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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