Burrata Makes Headlines, Unfortunately

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Late last week, the FDA announced a voluntary recall of Caseificio Voglie di Latte Burrata (only those packages with an expiration date of May 24, 2008) because of possible contamination by listeria.

This particular brand is available in California from the distributor Fresca Italia, and although the news is certainly not positive, it is nonetheless evidence that burrata, an extraordinarily delicious fresh cheese originally from Southern Italy, is truly beginning to enter mainstream consumption in this country.

Burrata was created as an ingenious way to make use of the small curds left over from the production of fresh mozzarella. These curds are mixed with fresh cream ("burro" is Italian for "butter") and then wrapped in a thin pouch of fresh mozzarella. The pouch is then wrapped in leaves of the Asphodelus ramosus (an herb with leaves similar to leeks).

When you cut into a pouch of burrata, the curdy, creamy center comes running out like some sort of cheesey Chicken Kiev. I describe the cheese as "cream you can chew on," and it's usually served with tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Burrata started popping up on restaurant menus a few years ago, and these days it is increasingly common to find it as a seasonal appetizer at many Italian establishments (especially, for some reason, those that serve good pizza).

I hope this listeria scare just a small speed bump on burrata's brisk journey to super-stardom. Its accolades are well-earned, indeed. Anyone else out there a crazy Burrata nut like me?