‘Laboratory’ is the key word to use for this little piece of fresh cheese heaven, where the magic of cheese making – and especially, mozzarella making – happens on a daily basis in the tiny backroom of the Melbourne cheese shop of Giorgio Linguanti and Kirsty Laird, La Latteria.
Fresh mozzarella – bright, weighty, balls of silky, white cheese is hand-stretched and formed in the laboratory. Its decadent cousin, burrata, is a mozzarella casing holding a creamy filling, tied in a knot like a milky water balloon.
With expert hands that are used to the scalding temperatures needed to make the cheese soft and pliable, Laird forms several mozzarella balls in a matter of minutes. From crumbling curds, to stretchy lengths of elastic cheese, it’s like watching a magician’s hands, except mozzarella are flying out instead of doves.
The little shop is where you can find not only cheese, but also fresh unhomogenised milk straight from the farm, yogurt and some local produce like walnuts or muscatel grapes – the kinds of things that would sit well on a cheese board.
The display case is filled with Italianate cheeses from diavoletti to scamorza to fresh baskets of buffalo milk ricotta. Marco can’t go past the squacquerone, a beautiful, fresh creamy cheese typical of Emilia-Romagna that he spreads generously onto homemade piadine with prosciutto and rocket.
But there’s nothing like a ball of freshly made mozzarella, broken up roughly with fingers over toasted bread and dressed in just some extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes and fresh herbs. Heaven.
Fresh mozzarella needs very little adornment and always goes well with extra virgin olive oil, but here are a few other ideas:
- Broken up into pieces and added to a fresh tomato and basil salad for the classic caprese
- A topping of fresh chunks of mozzarella, salted anchovy fillets and fresh herbs for a tasty bruschetta
- Tear into large pieces to top steaming bowls of pasta al pomodoro – warmed from the pasta, the fresh mozzarella becomes beautifully creamy.
- Although I think the best way to enjoy mozzarella is fresh, there is something amazing about wrapping smaller balls of mozzarella in lardo and grilling very lightly or until the lardo just begins to turn translucent. Amazing.
How to keep your fresh mozzarella: ideally, this is a handmade product that you want to eat the day that it is made. Otherwise, if stored in its whey or brine, it can keep up to a week.