Tag: burrata

Creamy indulgence

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

Today was Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent. After last night’s extravagant feast, I was ready to embrace a more ascetic lifestyle, so for the next forty days, I will be giving up meat – red and white… and the other white.

Having gone the “meatless Fridays” route the past few years, it didn’t seem too great an additional burden to extend the restriction throughout the entire week. I do appreciate the carnivore’s lifestyle, though, so rest assured that the required element of sacrifice is still there. But let’s be realistic: I’ll still be eating seafood and animal products (dairy, eggs, honey). Apparently this dietary combination makes me a pescetarian rather than a vegetarian, since of course, true vegetarians do not eat fish.

Incidentally, is there a word for the vegetarians who eat bacon? If not, there should be, because I’ve met my share of those in my day. Hey, I sympathize: if ever I were to attempt to extend my Lenten dietary restrictions year-round, that would be my downfall as well. Bacon’s tasty, yo!

The New York Times just ran a piece on the challenges incompatible diets can pose for romantic relationships. In it, author Kate Murphy included a hilarious quote from Anthony Bourdain’s compulsively readable 2000 memoir and industry exposé Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly: “vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”

Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far. But I certainly don’t have to understand it.

So I may be off meat for a month and a half, but I can still indulge in delicious cheese. And wouldn’t you know: Fairway Market had just gotten in a fresh shipment of burrata, the highly perishable curd and cream delicacy from Campania, introduced to me by MLF a couple of weeks ago.

I picked up one of the leaf-wrapped pouches, and hurried home with my bounty….


…and cut right in, unleashing the oozing creaminess within.


Now that’s sinful.

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Burrata at La Bottega

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After popping in at Pasita for an apéritif with SK, I left him to his dinner while I set off to meet MLF at La Bottega inside the possibly haunted Maritime Hotel. I strolled in through that familiar lobby, where my friend was waiting at the bar with a glass of red wine and a smile.

The hotel restaurant has a casually rustic Italian feel, reminiscent of ‘inoteca or a slew of other downtown Keith McNally clones: long bar, prominent wood pizza oven, white tile, wooden tables, wine bottle-lined walls… The Times less charitably described the decor as a “mix of Italian trattoria and 1950’s high school.” La Bottega’s biggest draw, though, is its beautifully lit, tree-lined patio; on warmer evenings the deck overflows with the bold and the beautiful — or is that the beautiful and the damned? — and offers a prime vantage point for MePa people watching.

La Bottega

We were spared the crowds this chilly winter night, but the green twinkling lights just outside the picture windows cast their own warm glow over us.

La Bottega

Tonight MLF, who knows how I love cheese, introduced me to the joys of burrata, a specialty fresh mozzarella originating from the Puglia region of southern Italy. The decadent cheese derives its name from burro, the Italian word for “butter.” To produce it, cheese makers stretch a still-warm, thin layer of fresh mozzarella curd around a pillowy soft blend of heavy cream and tender, unspun mozzarella curds, or stracciatelle (“little rags”). Traditionally, the delicate pouch is sealed off with a topknot, brined and then wrapped in asphodel (similar to leek) leaves. The relatively recent trendiness of burrata in the United States poses a challenge for suppliers of the extremely perishable cheese: burrata imported from Italy is usually two days old by the time it reaches New York, one day old if it’s flown in from California, where artisanal producers like Gioia Cheese Co. hand-form up to 1500 pounds of burrata balls a day.

At La Bottega, it’s served up in a lusciously rich Insalata Caprese: the soft pouch surrounded by halved grape tomatoes and torn basil, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Once pierced, the burrata gives up its sweetly creamy, oozing center — perfect for scooping up with pieces of crusty bread. Wow. 

Dim lighting doesn’t do the dish justice, but here it is:


The San Francisco Chronicle, in a 2006 article about burrata, wrote that the cheese’s “gushing inner richness has sent shivers of desire up and down the West Coast.” Here on the East Coast, pound-size servings are available for sale at purveyors like Fairway, Zabar’s, Agata & Valentina and Williamsburg’s Bedford Cheese Shop — check out their rather evocative description — a few of which also carry versions of burrata filled with porcini mushrooms or black truffles.

Tagliatelle al Ragú Bolognese — fresh pasta ribbons with beef, pork & veal ragú:

Ragu Bolognese

As we made our way through a leisurely meal, our seats vibrated to pounding beats coming from the Hiro Ballroom below, where the Hip Rock Reggae show with guest DJs Biz Markie and Roxy Cottontail was in full swing.

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