Burrata (Deca & Otto)
We often daydream about diving into a pillowy ball of buffalo’s milk mozzarella, famed for the way the milk’s high protein and fat content unite to create a luscious, decadent version of the southern Italian classic. Unfortunately, though, the trip across the Atlantic can be taxing for those ultra-fresh beauties. Enter Deca & Otto, a Colombian producer churning out fresh bufala from the milk of that South American country’s many grassfed buffalos—and exporting it north on refrigerated flights to the U.S.
Deca & Otto began as a small project for foodie and entrepreneur Juan Manuel Quintero, who started buying milk from farmers in the northen Colombian plains—a fertile and swampy landscape perfect for water buffalo—and eventually traveled to Italy to purchase cheesemaking equipment. After meeting Alberto Sasson, a business owner already exporting roses to the U.S. in daily refrigerated flights, the two decided to team up to export cheeses, too (along with a fabulous version of buffalo milk Dulce de Leche, a Burrata, and a line of plain and flavored yogurts). The company was named for Deca, their first buffalo, and Otto, a little bird that sits on her and grooms her while she grazes.
At Deca & Otto Farms, buffalos are milked by hand before the milk is immediately sent to a refrigerator. Production of the cheese begins early every morning, as cheesemakers slowly agitate milk to reach the correct temperature and pH, until curds separate from whey. As in traditional mozzarella-making, cheesemakers form curds together, then chop them up and re-heat them in water, rendering them flexible for the stretching process. Stretched curds are then formed into a kind of flattened patty and placed in cool water to solidify. The flattened mozzarella is formed into a pouch, which is stuffed with stracciatella, a mixture of shredded mozzarella and buffalo cream. These Burrata pouches remain submerged in a brine when packaged so that they stay moist and fresh.
Place this delicate, lovely pouch on a plate for a few minutes, and that cream will start to ooze out; cut it open, and it’ll explode into a gooey mass, with a stracciatella inside that almost looks like rice pudding. It’s milky on the nose and on the palate, with all the unctuous richness that we love in buffalo milk cheese.
Plop one of these pouches atop a pasta dish or salad, or garnish it with olive oil and truffle flakes before diving in with a spoon.