Hooray, our own tomatoes, drenched in flavor from the summer sun, are ripening on the vine! I drove to Citarella, a new market in town, in search of the softball-size, shrink-wrapped mozzarella, sure to be stacked next to a mountain of tomatoes and bouquets of basil. A salad of tomato, mozzarella, and avocado drizzled with balsamic glaze, is one summer’s great treats.
A woman spied my ball of ‘manufactured’ cheese in my shopping cart, and asked if I’d met the mozzarella man, offering warm squares of cheese in the next aisle. I showed him the mozzarella in my cart and asked him if he’d made it. He frowned at my cheese with disdain and offered me a piece of his freshly made cheese. Now I’m ruined. There is no turning back. I always thought mozzarella was only good paired with other more tasty things. This was delicious all by itself.
Nearly a decade ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. She and her family decided to try on the ‘Eat Local’ movement like a religion, and agreed for one year to eat only food that either grew in their own backyard or from one of their neighbors. From chickens from the farmyard across the meadow, to beans they grew and canned for winter, they lived their promise.
Tucked within this wonderful story, is a recipe for homemade mozzarella. Ah, my ship has come in!
Next time I see the mozzarella man, we’ll practically be comrades in arms.
I ordered my supplies from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company as the Kingsolver’s recommended, after discovering any and all local grocers haven’t a clue what rennet is. Never mind, you don’t want to know either.
It takes a gallon of milk to make a tradition round of mozzarella.
This is my favorite milk- not because I can speak to its purity and superior taste, but because the cow makes me smile. The logo was drawn by Susan Boynton, the illustrator of many wonderful children’s books. Of course I also love that the cows are (theoretically) grazing on a mountain side farm.
Here the curds are separating from the whey.
At this point you heat it and knead it and stretch it ….. and sneak little bite of it.
Well, I’d love to tell you that mine is every bit as delicious as Mozzarella Man’s.
I went back to Citarella to track down the mozzarella master to pick up some tips. Angelo is my new friend. He was raised on a farm in Sicily. Making mozzarella is second nature to him. This week he invited me to witness how a master makes this simple cheese.