On another day in the Napoli area, Enzo took us to Tenuta Vannulo, the only organic buffalo mozzarella farm in all of Italy. They have a model I really admire. Everything is on an extremely local level. Every morning at 4 a.m. or so they collect the milk from the 400 or so buffalo on the farm. From there, they make the mozzarella. They produce enough mozzarella and ricotta to sell on a daily basis and nothing more.
The buffalo have the five-star hotel treatment (for buffalo). Their stables are divided into two sections. In the front, there’s bountiful food. When they want water, they simply pass through a door to get to the back. Upon returning, however, they must be milked. There is a waiting area as they prepare to be milked, where there are scratching posts and mats for napping. Then, they enter the robotic milking area. A computerized system collects the milk from them and stores information on how much milk comes from each tete, allowing the farmers to track milk production over time.
We also saw the workers form the mozzarella from the “dough.” It’s pretty amazing, actually. To get those small balls of mozzarella we’re used to, the workers pinch off pieces from the dough which is over 150 degrees as they handle it. Talk about tough. As Americans, we often eat mozzarella incorrectly. When eaten properly, mozzarella is served at room temperature and it should be bought in 1 kilogram pieces at a minimum. Of course, our guide added, many people prefer the small balls of mozzarella, but those are not traditional.
Basically, the entire process was really cool and true mozzarella has an incredible taste. We got to sample some that had just been made. The richness, the delicateness, the smoothness of the cheese was amazing.