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October 11, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

"Buffalo mozzarella is the Great White Whale of American cheesemaking: a dream so exotic and powerful that it drives otherwise sensible people into ruinous monomaniacal quests."
posted by Chrysostom (61 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bufala bufala bufala!
posted by grobstein at 2:32 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hope Ramini figures it out soon. I want mozzarella di bufala within driving distance, please.
posted by ambrosia at 2:34 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this one of those things where they arent allowed to call it "bufala" if it isnt genuine?
Because I have a fantastic grocery here that I saw some at and I would love to try it.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:38 PM on October 11, 2012




Huh... I didn't realize it was so difficult to make. I'm wondering now if the delicious so called buffalo mozzarella Caprese salads I've had were just pale imitations of the real thing.
posted by kmz at 2:42 PM on October 11, 2012


Senor Cardgage, mozarrella without "di bufala" is made from regular cow milk.
posted by Pendragon at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, no. The great white whale is Burrata. There's only one place in America that makes it well. And it's impossible to ship overseas. It's essentially Mozzarella wrapped around clotted cream. It's as delicious as that sounds.

My wife, the head cheesemonger and owner of The Calf And Kid, had to put a limit on how many people could buy at once because she was running out.

It has a bit of an interesting history because it's what Mozzarella makers would make for their families out of the leftover scraps. Like all great foods, it started as peasant food.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


There's something better than Buffalo mozzarella. It's called Burrata.
posted by vacapinta at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


the Cheese Board in Berkeley CA sometimes has a Burrata with white truffles in it. IT IS THE CHEESE EVENT HORIZON. if you are there, check if they have it (its not frequent). if they have it BUY SOME!!!
posted by supermedusa at 2:46 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Buffalo, buffalo, bo-uffalo, banana-fana fo-fuffalo, mee-mi-mo-muffalo, buffalo!
posted by Naberius at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This enthusiasm for cheese baffles me.
posted by tommasz at 2:50 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is where I admit that I did not know until recently that buffalo mozzarella was made from buffalo milk. I just assumed "buffalo" meant it was, like, large, or... or something. I don't know what I thought. But it wasn't that.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:50 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I once walked out of a grocery store, never to return, because they told me to 'just substitute regular mozzarella for the bufula, you won't be able to tell the difference.'

I calmly put everything in my basket back where I got it, and left.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:51 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So this explains why I've never liked the squidgy, bland, wet white chunks that everyone assured me were the height of cheese. They are not the real thing!
posted by Countess Elena at 2:51 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's only one place in America that makes it well.

I know several artisanal cheesemakers who are going to go apeshit when you tell me which Burrata you view as the only good American Burrata, so spill. (Yes. I know several artisinal cheesemakers. I like life. Life likes me. Life and I fairly fully agree.)
posted by The Bellman at 2:51 PM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is where I admit that I did not know until recently that buffalo mozzarella was made from buffalo milk. I just assumed "buffalo" meant it was, like, large, or... or something. I don't know what I thought. But it wasn't that.

Hah! Brother oh mine, my wife has a standard answer for when people ask why it's so expensive. "Can you imagine milking a buffalo?"
posted by lumpenprole at 2:52 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, gosh, I had the sampler lunch at a bufala mozzrella bar (!) in Florence called Obika. It was lovely. I love cheese.
posted by Capybara at 2:52 PM on October 11, 2012


I was so disappointed when I discovered it wasn't made from bison milk. I figured bison milking had to be the extreme sport of the dairy universe.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


only one place in America that makes it well.

Is it Di Stefano?
posted by Houstonian at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2012


There's an Obika in Los Angeles now, too. I'll be there in a cheese-induced stupor if anybody needs me.
posted by The World Famous at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2012


I eat something from the afore mentioned Cheeseboard that I thought was bufala (no truffles involved.) It's awesome but if bufala is this hard to get ahold of, I'm support what I ate was something less exotic.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2012


Hah! Brother oh mine, my wife has a standard answer for when people ask why it's so expensive. "Can you imagine milking a buffalo?"

But how come rat cheese is so cheap then? (Imagine the tiny little stool!)
posted by The Bellman at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have been watching a lot of Sopranos and can't look at this without seeing mozzarella as moozadell.
posted by sweetkid at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2012


One of my many million dollar ideas is starting a water buffalo ranch somewhere in Eastern Oregon and creating a buffalo cheese revolution!

And then I think about milking a water buffalo and what the hell I'll do with the buffalo when I realize that no one has the money for such frippery. Plus, I'm a hard-working sap without some kind of Bain Capital money to fall back on should the whole thing go tits up.

But still....
posted by amanda at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]



Yep, if you're making your pizza, pasta, tomato salad, finger food (or whatever else) with any other mozarella you're probably making a grievous mistake and should run, not walk, to your nearest itallian deli and buy a hunk of buffalo.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:00 PM on October 11, 2012


It's awesome but if bufala is this hard to get ahold of, I'm support what I ate was something less exotic.

It's not that it's hard to get a hold of; it's just hard to make. You can get the good stuff, but it's imported from Italy (unless you already live in Italy, in which case you already know that you can get the good stuff).
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2012


Oh, I know Pendragon. Perhaps I wasnt too clear. I mean I SAW mozarella di bufala there and was wondering if this was a thing like "champagne" or "Parmesan" where you cant name a product that if it isnt genuine.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2012


This enthusiasm for cheese baffles me.

Really? Because it buffles me. Buffle.. lo. Buffalo.

I'll show myself out.
posted by supercres at 3:10 PM on October 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


And then I think about milking a water buffalo and what the hell I'll do with the buffalo when I realize that no one has the money for such frippery.

Exactly. My wife just stopped home in between errands and she was saying that that is the reason there's not more buffalo milk products in the U.S. A buffalo herd is expensive, difficult to deal with, hard to milk, expensive to feed and takes up a huge amount of land. Plus the market for buffalo meat isn't huge, so there's not as much of a dual purpose you can put stuff to.

Cheese makers don't make much money to begin with, so overcoming that hurdle is tough.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:10 PM on October 11, 2012


Oh, I know Pendragon. Perhaps I wasnt too clear. I mean I SAW mozarella di bufala there and was wondering if this was a thing like "champagne" or "Parmesan" where you cant name a product that if it isnt genuine.

That's called terroir. I don't recall ever seeing anything to indicate that buffalo mozzarella was under any kind of terroir restriction.
posted by wabbittwax at 3:13 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking as someone who likes to dabble in cheesemaking, I can attest to the fact that making mozzarella generally speaking is fricking hard. It's an extremely temperamental cheese, much more so than others I've tried to make. The temperature of the milk, the protein content, fat content, all of it has an effect on the end-result; get one thing wrong and you have a glorified mess. I can imagine how much harder it can be with a temperamental animal, whose milk yield is not predictable. Gah.
posted by LN at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my many million dollar ideas is starting a water buffalo ranch somewhere in Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon =/= same climate as around Napoli, Italy
posted by gen at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last time I was in Italy I would go to the cheesemonger every morning and buy an unhealthy amount (1/2 pound or so?) of buffalo milk mozzerella for breakfast. I'm sure they thought I was an insane american who survived on pure cheese, but damn that stuff was too good (and cheap!) to not eat as much as I could.
posted by aspo at 3:18 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Looks like too many curdles to jump if you ask me.
posted by sourwookie at 3:19 PM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]



This enthusiasm for cheese baffles me.

Cylon.
posted by The Whelk at 3:21 PM on October 11, 2012 [35 favorites]


Last time I was in Italy I would go to the cheesemonger every morning and buy an unhealthy amount (1/2 pound or so?) of buffalo milk mozzerella for breakfast. I'm sure they thought I was an insane american. . .

Only because there was perfectly good sheep's milk ricotta sitting right there. With toast. And honey. Shit. Now I want breakfast.
posted by The Bellman at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forget bufala. Make cheese with American buffalo milk (aka: bison milk).
posted by asnider at 3:30 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Literally reading this thread three doors away from the Cheeseboard in Berkeley. I know what I'm doing on my way home.
posted by bwerdmuller at 3:39 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I tried buffalo mozzarella once. I didn't love it. It was too . . . something. Gamey isn't the right word, but something like that. I usually love strong cheese. Anyway, just to point out: there's a whole world of mozzarellas between the plastic-sealed, rubbery, dry ball of Precious from Winco and di bufala. There are plenty of decent fresh, whole milk mozzarellas.
posted by peep at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Bison bison bison
posted by Zerowensboring at 4:00 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


tommasz: This enthusiasm for cheese baffles me.

It's like any fancy food good: spend time eating varieties of the same thing and focus on what you're eating, and you'll begin to notice differences. This holds true for wine, beer, bread, cheese, and everything else. Sure, there's also hype that follows certain products that makes them overpriced versus the actual work put into the good or the enjoyment you will receive from it, but there is a whole realm of food and drink between "microwave meal" and "three Michelin star restaurant."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just assumed "buffalo" meant it was, like, large, or... or something. I don't know what I thought. But it wasn't that.

3 ounces butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
posted by mikelieman at 4:30 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can you imagine poutine made with this cheese? I know this is standing /Canadien/ food culture on its tête, but just imagine substituting the squeaky curds for melty, fragrant mozza. It's not like modern poutineries don't introduce all sorts of fuckery into the basic recipe, anyway.

Also, not cheese, but clotted cream is also artery-stopping good.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:34 PM on October 11, 2012


Mozzarella in carrozza, the ultimate grill cheese sandwich.
posted by francesca too at 5:53 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Varcaturo, just North of Naples and in that area the bufala were free-range. I wasn't really friends with the herder/cheese maker because he hated my dogs, but I always bought the mozz from him.

His animals were free-range and I could tell week to week, by taste, which field near my house they were grazing in. The abandoned but ever growing vineyard. The one bordered by black berries. The one covered entirely with thistle...awesome mozzarella!

That said, I'm generally pretty happy with American mozzarella when it's packaged in small globs floating in whey. The texture is pretty right on and the flavor is just close enough. I really don't expect, even with the import of bufala to the U.S., to capture or recreate anything close to what one would find in Italy.
posted by snsranch at 6:28 PM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is pretty routine for restaurants to airlift in Buffalo Mozzerella. As something of a connoisseur of exotic cheeses and a particular fan of Mozzerella I had to try it. I grew up eating fresh Mozzerella cheese, lightly salted, sold out of tubs of whey in tiny family owned stores.

Perhaps I need to to try more Buffalo Mozzerella, perhaps I am just partial to what I am used to, maybe what I got wasn't really representative but I didn't think it was significant better. The texture was certainly different, I seem to remember it as a bit creamier. I certainly wouldn't mind trying more though. I wonder where I can get some at 9:30 at night. A head to head battle would be great right now.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:35 PM on October 11, 2012


Trader Joes has one brand of bufala mozz. I don't know how it stands up to comparison with what one might find in an Italian deli, but it's good enough in comparison to the cow's milk stuff that I'll always get some if it's in stock. Lovely stuff.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:02 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I gotta find out when they close. Acquiring cheese would provide the perfect reason to abandon this dumb VP debate.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:06 PM on October 11, 2012


wabbittwax: "That's called terroir."

More properly, it's an appellation, which is kind of the bureaucratic expression of terroir.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:24 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fresh Water Buffalo Mozzarella is available for shipping from Cedar Grove Cheese out of Plain, Wisconsin (near Madison, just north of Spring Green).

...not affiliated, just a reformed cheesehead
posted by hambone at 7:39 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


They produce only a fraction of the milk you get from a typical dairy cow, and they are so psychologically fragile that it’s hard to even get that much out of them.

He needs Temple Grandin!
posted by XMLicious at 9:19 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


how dare you bring up Cheeseboard, since I am not currently located in the vicinity of Berkeley. pizza is kinda far down my list of favorite food but their bakery/cheese shop next door is just ridiculous.
posted by ninjew at 11:48 PM on October 11, 2012


Am I the only one who suspects that a cheese maker that drums up loads of media attention for a cheese he hasn't made yet is probably never going to produce a truly gourmet product?
posted by Kit W at 12:35 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just assumed "buffalo" meant it was, like, large, or... or something.

you know, just a couple of months ago I found out why that ubiquitous dish the wrong kind of dive bars all have is called "buffalo wings": the sauce was invented in Buffalo, New York. It has nothing to do with some imaginary species of large two-legged bovine with small vestigial wings, as I had supposed.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:37 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the comments:

"This guy obviously knows very little about making cheese, and he proposes to make $1.5 million a year from the get-go. No interest in producing something that most people will be able to afford. No interest in making the world a better place. Now THERE'S the American spirit!

May his buffalo maul him."
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 5:41 AM on October 12, 2012


Have the Neapolitans gotten over the dioxin scandal? I've not heard any updates. (Then there's this.)
posted by BWA at 6:52 AM on October 12, 2012


Also, if he can manage to grow basil the same way they do in Liguria, we might be able to get proper pesto.
posted by BWA at 6:58 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Make cheese with American buffalo milk (aka: bison milk)

You can't wash your hands in a buffalo
posted by iotic at 7:21 AM on October 12, 2012


Anyway, you can't wash your hands in the same buffalo twice. (And don't try it!)
posted by grobstein at 10:01 AM on October 12, 2012


Can you imagine poutine made with this cheese? I know this is standing /Canadien/ food culture on its tête, but just imagine substituting the squeaky curds for melty, fragrant mozza.

A lot of places do use mozza in place of curds because it's cheaper. It is not a suitable replacement.

Now, admittedly, they're often using lower quality mozza and it's definitely not buffalo mozzarella, but as it currently stands, I have never had "mozzarella poutine" that was comparable to the real stuff.
posted by asnider at 10:42 AM on October 12, 2012


A lot of places do use mozza in place of curds because it's cheaper. It is not a suitable replacement.

Couldn't agree more. Though now I may have to try to make Burrata Poutine. Just for scientific purposes, of course.

Oddly, I find that my biggest problem with poutine tends to be not the cheese, because yes curds are best but I'll take any type of cheese fries happily, but with the gravy. Cheap gravy makes the whole thing just kind of sad. And don't get me started on places that go light on the gravy. YOU ARE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:08 PM on October 12, 2012


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