There is always a dichotomy of feeling when one learns of a new food that is utterly delicious. On the one hand, you are beside yourself, elated with the sweet thrill of discovery, thrumming in anticipation of enjoying it in times to come. On the other hand, you're appalled that you lived so long without knowing it, mourning all the lost days in which you were completely ignorant of its existence.
This is how I feel about burrata.
I had never heard of burrata until a few months ago, when I was visiting LA for my friend's bachelorette and we took her to Farfalla Trattoria in Los Feliz. She saw the burrata on the menu and jumped at it. We all tried some. And that was the end of one chapter of my life, and the beginning of another.
Burrata is one of those well-kept secrets of the Old World, much like gougeres and the many applications of leek confit. In Italian it literally means "buttered," which is an apt description of its taste. It begins like an ordinary cheese, specifically like a mozzarella, which involves curds, hot whey, and much pulling of stringy-soft goodness. But here is where burrata bids adieu to its ordinary cousins and moves on to higher planes of existence. Before the curds cool, the cheese if formed into a pouch, stuffed with scraps of mozzarella and filled with cream before it is sealed.
The result is delicate, light, and the most dream-creamiest cheese you've ever tasted. In all seriousness, when I realized that they carry burrata at Trader Joe's (right next to the other versions of ho-hum fresh mozzarellas), I decided that I would probably never eat regular mozzarella again. I bought it, took it home, and together Garry and I ate it with all the fixings: fresh tomato, Arcangeli's crusty artichoke-garlic loaf, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto. A dash of smoked salt I got from Whole Foods, which I have been using on absolutely everything. And freshly torn, peppery basil leaves that I harvested from my new basil plant.
Today, I tried something different with the leftover burrata - I used it to make my very first pizza margherita. I used only 1/3 a pouch of Trader Joe's ready-made "almost whole wheat" pizza dough and rolled it out very thinly. I then gave it a light sprinkling of regular shredded mozzarella, covered it in thin slices of tomatoes, then topped it with sliced burrata and a little more of the regular mozzarella. I baked it for about 12-15 min. in a 470 degree oven.
It came out perfectly hot, crispety-crunchety, and melty on top. But to be honest, it's kind of a waste to use burrata in this way - it is best eaten fresh and cold.