The Finest Formaggio at Masseria Lamapecora
If someone asked what your favorite food was, what would be your answer? Pizza? Steak? All things Italian? When your fondness for food is as great as mine, it can certainly be a tough question. However, there is one thing that I can never get enough of, cheese!
Contrada Fascianello, 72015 Fasano BR, Italy
Imagine my excitement when I realized we were going to visit Masseria Lamapecora, one of the premier cheese farms in Puglia. We arrived the production facility and approached the storefront which housed an assortment of mixed cheeses produced by the farm. Right away, my eyes lit up!
Before we could drool too much, we were ushered back to the small production area and given the most fashionable plastic aprons, hairnets and foot coverings. (Hence, no photo!) Once we pulled ourselves together, we were greeted by cheesemaker extraordinaire, Omer Ismani. Omer moved from Macedonia when he was a young boy and began studying the cheesemaking process at the age of fourteen under the master cheesemaker at Masseria Lamapecora.
During our visit, Omer demonstrated how mozzarella and burrata are made. Cheesemaking takes great practice, patience, and finesse. We watched as Omer turned raw cheese curds into the most spectacular balls of mozzarella using only a wooden paddle, hot salt water, and his hands.
Now that the mixture is complete, Omer must spend several minutes kneading the cheese to ensure it has the proper consistency and texture.
In order to ensure proper consistency, Omer does a "stretch" test.
Who says you can't have fun at work! Once the cheese has been officially "stretched", Omer proceeds to make mozzarella balls for each of us to try. As if that wasn't enough, we also had the good fortune to try his burrata.
Once Omer finished his demonstration, we were invited outside for an official cheese tasting. I can't even. So much cheese, so little time.
Did you spot a favorite? It's ok to have more than one, I know I did!
If you are in the midst of planning your culinary adventures in Puglia, this was by far a treat and I would certainly recommend adding this along with an olive oil tasting and vineyard tour. Not only did I have the opportunity to sample freshly made mozzarella and burrata, but I have a new found appreciation and respect for the craft of making cheese.
Until Next Time!