Visit mozzarella farms near Paestum ☆☆

A tasting of four types of mozzarella (with salumi and bread), Visit mozzarella farms, Paestum, Italy (Photo by Sandra)
A tasting of four types of mozzarella (with salumi and bread)

The mozzarella farms of the Cliento coast

The bufalo that produce milk for mozzarella, Visit mozzarella farms, Paestum, Italy. (Photo by Søren Hugger Møller)
Fresh mozzarella, Visit mozzarella farms, Paestum, Italy. (Photo by Wally Gobetz)

The plains of the Cliento coast, just south of the Amalfi Coast in Italy's Campania region, are most famous among travelers for the amazing ruins of 6th and 5th century BC Greek temples sprouting among the scrub and poppies at Paestum.

However, these coastal lowlands are also the epicenter of Italy's mozzarella production.

One baking June day after visiting the temples I decided to cool off with a dip in the Mediterranean, so I followed the signs marked "mare" to Via Nettuno, which led—as the name suggests—to the beach after about a 25-minute walk.

I soon found myself passing mozzarella farms with "vendita diretta"—direct sales—signs. Just after I turned onto Via Torre di Paestum of Via Nettuno, I I crunched up the driveway of Azienda Agricola Barlotti (www.barlotti.it), past lines of lowing European water buffalo with shaggy beards and swept-back horns waiting to be milked.

(True mozzarella di bufala is made using water buffalo milk—and is far too delicate to melt on top of pizza. Pizza cheese is usually either a low-moisture version of mozzarella or fior di latte, the "flower of milk" version made from cow's milk.)

Barlotti is a proud member of the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP trade orgainization (www.mozzarelladop.it) dedicated to maintaining the quality of locally-made mozzarella. In a farm outbuilding I found a small room crowded with vats of water, each one filled with bobbing bocconcini (mozzarella balls).

In a neighboring room, workers in white aprons were kneading vast blobs of proto-cheese in stainless steel tubs, pinching it off into bocconcini once it achieved the correct consistency.

A proprietor bustled in, scooped a half-pound ball from a vat and handed it to me to sample. It tasted of farm-fresh milk fluffed with air; each bite melted on my tongue.

I groaned in appreciation, and the smiling owner turned to a nearby case and began dishing out buffalo-milk yogurt and fresh ricotta drizzled with honey.

After about 20 minutes, I'd eaten more cheese than I would care to in a week but I felt obliged to buy. I stumbled out of there clutching a bag with four giant bocconcini.

It was about two pounds of cheese, and it cost me about $2.

Sitting on the beach a bit later, watching the rough surf, I began eyeing my bag. Finally I broke down, fished out a shining sphere of mozzarella larger than my fist, and took a big bite.

Heaven.

Photo gallery
  • A tasting of four types of mozzarella (with salumi and bread), Visit mozzarella farms, Italy (Photo by Sandra)
  • The bufalo that produce milk for mozzarella, Visit mozzarella farms, Italy (Photo by Søren Hugger Møller)
  • Fresh mozzarella, Visit mozzarella farms, Italy (Photo by Wally Gobetz)

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