8.19.2008

brilliantly beautiful burrata; grilled radicchio burrata bundles

Photobucket You would assume that since burrata is an Italian cheese, and relatively unknown, that I would have first savoured its indulgences in a tiny hilltop village somewhere in Italy. This is where Burrata would normally be found, and that's only if you're lucky enough to find someone willing to share it. When I asked my Italian hairdresser if I could get any in Calgary, it became conclusive to him that I am certifiably nuts. Not only was he speechless, but a little concerned that I might actually make some kind of pilgrimage to Italy, and then along a scarily narrow goat path, to find some of this good stuff. Burrata has to be one of the milkiest cheeses I've ever found. It isn't rich and creamy like a brie or camembert, but more like fresh wholesome milk which is sweet and delicate. If you taste particularly carefully, there is the taste of farm; of wide pastures, and fragrant flowers. Mostly though, you're in it for the texture. While fresh mozzarella should be tender, not tough, this isn't always the case; burrata is like the most tender mozzarella imaginable, it's virtually spreadable. Burrata has to be fresh, it has a shelf life of only three weeks - that's from cow to disposal. It's practically still mooing. No wonder this stuff is hard to find, who would be willing to schlep this stuff around, since it spoils so quickly? It surely couldn't be much of a money making venture, but more of a labour of love. Lucky for Americans, La Gioia, in California makes burrata, and it's good stuff. Jeff and I enjoyed it during a particularly memorable meal at Lark, in Seattle, and became obsessed with being able to find it in Canada. Two years later, we only just recently found some at the South Italian Centre in Edmonton. Unfortunately, the burrata was already old, and quite bitter. I should also add that Edmonton is at least three hours away, and not at all convenient just for cheese, but closer than Italy. Now I do find it hard to justify the cost and environmental impact that importing food halfway around the world, and I do make an effort to buy foods from as many local producers as I can. However, I do also find that there is only so much cheddar, canola oil, and venison I can take. But upon rare occasion, a luxurious, but simple, burrata is alright. At least, the original maker of the cheese had to have some knowledge and skills to be able to make it, and it could likely only come from a fairly small farmer. At least it isn't mass-produced, and maybe one day someone will make it closer to my home. In the least, I try to reflect upon where my food actually came from, and recognize that can perhaps do better in other areas to compensate as much as possible, even when it seems impossible. After extensive inquiring in Calgary, we found that Bite Groceteria, in Inglewood, was bringing in some burrata, and called me straight away. And the burrata is wonderful. Perhaps the best I've ever had, and yes, I did venture to enjoy it in Italy (twice), although without meandering down a goat path. Burrata is best served at room temperature, or just above. Like any exquisite ingredient, it doesn't require any fancy preparation other than maybe to be served with sliced bread. Anything much else, would waste the burrata's naturally goopy texture. Although, I did want to prepare something with the burrata, plus I had some radicchio and prosciutto in the fridge. Using, just a little bit of burrata (so I could save some to eat and enjoy the beauty of the burrata itself) I created little bundles of goodness by wrapping a little prosciutto, and some cheese in a leaf of radicchio. Jeff grilled them for a short time, trying to prevent the radicchio from burning, and only warming the cheese, being careful to keep it from liquefying. A little balsamic at the table, just helps to counter the richness of the burrata, and the bitterness of the radicchio. These are tasty, and a little like receiving a surprise gift; just what is inside? It is a little playful. I had made something similar with a fresh mozzarella, and that can also be very good, especially for entertaining friends. Grilled Radicchio Burrata Bundles serves 4-8 as appetizers 1 head radicchio, yielding 8 leaves 4 slices prosciutto di Parma 1 ball burrata best-quality aged balsamic vinegar, or a balsamic reduction *(take less expensive stuff and boil off the water) sharp toothpicks 1. Pre-heat the grill. 2. Using a paring knife, carefully remove the core of the radicchio head. Delicately separate the leaves of the radicchio, with as few tears as possible. 3. Tear each slice of prosciutto in half, and place each slice inside each cup of each leaf of radicchio. Add a tablespoon of burrata on each piece of prosciutto. 4. With a toothpick in hand, gently roll the top and bottom sections of the radicchio towards the middle. Then fold the sides over the middle, and secure with a toothpick (or two), minding that it doesn't completely go through the other side of the package. 5. Grill just until the leaves on top start to turn colour, the idea being that the cheese needs to be warmed up, and the radicchio just gains a slight essence of the grill. 6. Serve immediately with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

4 comments:

Laurie said...

Oh my, I would love this!! Radicchio is wonderful grilled and the cheese and prosciutto would totally round out the bitterness of it! I'm definitely going to bookmark this. I don't normally suggest recipes of mine on a comment, but you might like a recipe I created called grilled radicchio with nutmeg infused walnut sauce..
I'm glad I checked your recipe out!

gail said...

Thanks for checking it out Laurie - I hope you enjoy it as much as i expect to enjoy your recipe. It looks absolutely wonderful... oooh especially accompanied at some point by a buttery pasta.... Nutmeg is one of my favourite flavours.

Rowena said...

Don't even get me started on burrata! Believe it or not, the second thing I wanted to eat when we got back were sloppy hoes (don't ask, I coined that one on a whim). Sloppy hoes being of course, panini fatto con pane arabo e burrata, pomodori, e basilico. What is it about that cheese that makes me want to weep for joy?

If I can restrain myself from diving into our next purchase, I will certainly try this as we are still going strong with weekend bbq'ed meals.

Geri said...

Looks and sounds great and radicchio is so good for you. When examined solely for its antioxidant capabilities, radiccio is an antioxidant powerhouse compared to other fruits and vegetables.

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