It floats on the plate before you, that exquisite pillow of cheese. To the untrained eye it simply appears to be mozzarella, but think again. The faintest touch of the fork reveals a far more delicate tenacity. The mozzarella, only a thin layer, gives easily, as creamy strips of cheese slowly ooze onto the plate. If heaven is in the sky, then clouds are made of burrata. Spreadable on toast, buttery to the tongue, its flavor is polymorphous, uniquely rendered by tomato, pesto, honey, beet and satsuma alike. If you’ve never tried burrata cheese, you’re missing out on a second chance at childhood. Remember the first time you discovered your teddy bear had fluffy insides? Cutting open a burrata for the first time is much the same.
The word itself, burrata, sounds a lot like the car my neighbor’s boyfriend raced down our quiet street at 90 miles an hour, but don’t confuse the two. Joey Russo in his Chevrolet Beretta was a tasteless cheese ball. Burrata cheese is a highly regarded Italian import with an impeccable flavor and a shelf life shorter than teenage love. The cheese is one of the finest artisanal exports Italy graces us with: basically, a cream-filled mozzarella, buttery, fresh and best eaten within the first few days of being made. Burrata was first created as a way to use up scraps, stracciatelle, of mozzarella, imparting a special texture and flavor by soaking those strips in cream. Today, we regard this buttery, spreadable cheese as the mother of mozzarella. There are myriad ways to experience burrata in New Orleans. Whether you’re taking your hubby out for Valentine’s Day or hosting friends during Carnival, there is a burrata to satisfy every picky eater.
The eccentric: At a recent trip to A Mano, I was happily surprised to find their burrata served with satsuma, speck and mint. The combination was original, well rounded and shockingly light with tiny bits of meat and mint that complemented the refreshingly clean taste of citrus and cheese. The perfect appetizer for their amazing pasta.
The purist: Domenica’s take on burrata is the most classic you’ll find in town, with chef Alon Shaya’s regard for Italian tradition and accuracy evident in all of his menu. Accompanied by garlic bruschetta and extra virgin olive oil, this is the best dish for those who want to enjoy the cheese itself, and it’s also big enough to satisfy a table of four.
The nobility: Herbsaint’s arugula salad with burrata, beet and walnut vinaigrette is the perfect start for lunch or dinner. I know people who swear by this salad, who plan their trips to New Orleans around eating this salad. Burrata and beet is one of the most
divine food pairings you’ll find, and chef Donald Link’s salad manages to merge both French and Italian flavors into a simple, must-have starter.
The alpha male: Bouligny Tavern’s burrata, fleur de sel, and truffle oil bruschetta is a showstopper. How decadent can one get, you ask? Chef John Harris continues to push the boundaries of sinful eating with this bruschetta, truly created with the truffle lover in mind. A strong red wine is recommended to balance out the strong flavors accompanying this burrata, and that’s a good thing.
The Romantic. Chef Aaron Burgau’s menu at Oak wine bar features a salad of burrata with roasted local pears, frisée, toasted almonds and a local honey vinaigrette. The wonderfully light flavors are irresistible and sustainable. Feel good about supporting local farmers while sharing this salad with the one you love, savoring each bite with a glass of white wine and live music.
A Mano | 870 Tchoupitoulas St. | 208-9280 | AManoNola.com
Bouligny Tavern | 3641 Magazine St. | 891-1810 | BoulignyTavern.com
Domenica | 123 Baronne St. | 648-6020 | DomenicaRestaurant.com
Herbsaint | 701 St. Charles Ave. | 524-4114 | Herbsaint.com
Lilette | 3637 Magazine St. | 895-1636 | LiletteRestaurant.com
Oak | 8118 Oak St. | 302-1485 | OakNola.com