I guess I really never gave much thought to where buffalo mozzarella actually came from – it’s one of those special foods that show up on a nicer Italian restaurant menu but is always difficult to find in an American grocery store. However, when those buffalo looked me in the eye, I figured it out.
Marisa, Cristina, two Monicas and I had the opportunity to visit L’Azienda Tre Comuni, the largest producer of buffalo mozzarella in Northern Italy. Located in Istrana, about an hour north of Venice, the three Minato brothers have been producing local mozzarella since 1992. And lucky for us, we had a bird’s eye view of the production along with sampling the most fabulous mozzarella I’ve ever experienced. That first bite was a burst of freshness, tanginess and smoothness that was unforgettable. And we didn’t stop…
On this farm, the family has 300 buffalo and each one produces about 4 gallons (8 liters) of milk each day. Including the buffalo from their other farms, Tre Comuni produces 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of mozzarella each day. And they’re formed into different sizes including artistically hand braided pieces, small bocconcini and itty bitty ciliegine (cherry sized).
The buffalo milk is also made into ultra creamy ricotta, firm stracchino (which can be grilled), silky panna cotta and luxurious yogurt. Various cuts of buffalo meat (chops, steaks and burgers) including a mild salami are also sold at the Tre Communi shop.
With a sharper taste and a slightly softer consistency than cow’s milk mozzarella, the buffalo variety is a bit higher in fat and calories but lower in cholesterol. And Graziano, the manager told us that if you’re lactose intolerant, you won’t have a problem with buffalo milk. Since I hear what I want to hear, the lower cholesterol bit sounded great…(The Buffalo Milk Diet?).
That night, we had an incredible dinner at Cristina’s and stuffed ourselves with sensational salami, mozzarella, stracchino, panna cotta and ricotta…all supplied by the buffalo. And wine of course…supplied by grapes.