I have to confess when I noticed Riverford (from whom I buy my organic box delivery) were selling Mozzarella made not in Italy but in Hampshire I was to put it mildly a little dubious.
Could Laverstoke Park Farm really be producing genuine buffalo mozzarella that could live up to, let alone rival, the glorious milky cheese I’d eaten in Italy? This I had to try.
So last week I ordered a pot.
Mozzare means to tear by hand, a crucial step in the process of making mozzarella, one of Italy’s most popular cheeses. Its name also may come from scamozzata, a southern Italian term meaning “without a shirt,” an apt description of a soft cheese without a dry or hard covering.
The key to good mozzarella is of course freshness so it makes sense that UK produced mozzarella would be good from that point. Even the best Italian mozzarella imports lack that freshness and mouthfeel that you get from the real deal in Italia itself. God knows how long the packets of rubbery rounds of cheese in overly salty brine that taints have been sitting in storage before being sold at the supermarket.
In Italy mozzarella is a cheese to be bought fresh from the deli or specialist cheese shop on an as and when required basis. It is not bought at the weekly shop to sit languishing in plastic bags in the fridge for days on end.
Laverstoke Park Farm mozzarella turned out to be the best mozzarella I have eaten outside of Italy. It’s a truly excellent product, but, it cannot compare to the mozzarella I ate in Amelia (Umbria).
Picture the scene, on an early morning stroll around the old town I came across a cheese shop selling so many specimen that I was on cloud nine. After a lengthy conversation in broken Italian and much gesticulating I came away with a bag overflowing with the best of the local produce; nestled on top of this mountain of goodness: a few balls of freshly delivered mozzarella which the assistant had plucked from a bucket of week saline solution and bagged up in front of my eyes. I did no more than break the mozzarella with my fingers, allowing the milk to ooze out and devour it plain. The burst of freshness was out of this world.
With my Laverstoke mozzarella I decided to make an Insalata Caprese.
Insalata Caprese is one of the most simple foods going, all it comprises is a plate of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves drizzled with a little olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Not very exciting you may think, but you’d be wrong, very wrong. Sweet juicy tomatoes paired with soft milky cheese and picante basil leaves with good green and peppery olive oil can be blissful especially when paired with some rustic, crusty Italian bread.
The flavour of the Laverstock mozzarella is gentle but rich, subtle but acidic, ultra soft yielding at the slightest pressure, without being intrusive. Somehow it manages to cleanse and coat the palate at the same time – the ultimate sign of excellent mozzarella.
I was so impressed with the cheese that I’ll be adding it to my regular Riverford order and checking out Laverstoke’s online shopping section.
Why not watch a short video about the Laverstoke mozzarella?