THE BEAUTY OF THE BUFFALO.
If I could choose an unconventional pet, it would definitely be one of these girls. They are so kind, docile and…..GENEROUS! These charming females have supplied all of Italy and afar for many centuries with one of the countries most delicious products. But where would I put her? certain not in my back yard!
I just have to wait to visit her when Im on the Amalfi Coast. She is just down the road from this magnificent holiday destination, the Amalfi Coast and has been for centuries! yes the region of Salerno is one of the biggest producers of buffalo mozzarella in all of Italy.
Mozzare is the verb meaning ‘cutting by hand” then separating eatable size balls of this delicious milk produce from the milk curd to then consume. If the similar dairy product comes from a ‘cow’ it SHOULD be called ‘fior di latte’, (flower of milk), but not mozzarella which SHOULD be strictly reserved for the Buffalo variety. By the way it is a ‘milk’ product and not a ‘cheese’ as it will go off within days. Theoretically cheese does not go off within a few days. Having said that Mozzarella from the Buffalo lasts a lot longer than Fior di Latte from the cow, not to mention the superior flavour.
Theories of it’s origin are plentiful but the most likely is that the Arabs introduced the water buffalo into Campania around the year 1000. Either way, these animals have been around for a long time. Their original used was to plough the fields due to their strength and wide hooves which resided sinking terrains, they were plentiful and were seen everywhere along the roadside. Today they are preciously enclosed on very rich farms especially equipped for them, but none as grandly as this one particular farm just outside Salerno.
Meeting these wonderful creatures while visiting the Amalfi Coast has several benefits! This one rare Organic Buffalo Farm is just near the Temples of Peastum (previously known as Poseidonia after the God of the Sea) outside Salerno, apx 2 hrs from Positano, the furthest town from Salerno OR one hour from Vietri sul Mare, the capital of the famous ceramics and the closest Amalfi Coast town to Salerno. Paestum boasts the oldest and best preserved Greek Temples out side of Athens and are an absolute treat to visit after you have done a tour of the Buffalo farm and if you like, made your purchases. They supply fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, yogurt, butter and dont forget you can grab an unforgettable Buffalo milk gelato on the way out!
This Organic estate still supply cold styrofoam boxes to take your produce away as they have plenty of private clients who fly in for just 24 hrs from Milano to equip their own kitchens with these delicious delicacies. This Tenuto (Estate) do not supply any commercial activities (shops, restaurants, markets are not allowed to purchase here ) as their demands for larger quantities outweighs that of the private buyer. For once, we private clients have the precedence!!! Not only, Mozzarella should NEVER be refrigerated! Sacrilege! not even the cow variety.
With only a head of 600 buffalo and all treated homoeopathically, these beasts are heavily spoilt with all creature comforts, at the end of your visit, you will WISH you were a buffalo on this Estate! All the life stock bugs are kept at bay with hanging pots of citronella and organic products scattered around the farm area. All 600 buffalo are named and treated accordingly as a family. There is Cioccolato, (Chocolate) Veloce, (Speedy) Coccolo, (Cuddly) and the list goes on……And they have a group shower twice a day to stay refreshed, clean and bug free and any time they are feeling like a massage they simply head over to the massage car wash and slip under one of those big bottle brushes……sometimes with a friend
After this wonderful visit you could have them hold your produce, but buy early as it’s generally finished by lunchtime. Then pick it up on your way along the Amalfi Coast for lunch. I have some great seafood recommendations on your way home in the quaint fishing village of Cetara just outside of Vietri and apx 1 hr from Positano. But before heading off to lunch this is a great opportunity to visit the close by magnificent Greek temples of Paestum. There are three in all and one fabulous small and well contained museum just over the road holds many treasures; which I studied dutifully in High School! But many of these treasures in the Paestum museum were not only recovered from the Greek Temples but also from previously civilisations going back as far as the prehistoric ages! Excavation bought so many remarkable artefacts to light.
I used to visit this area at Xmas when the red myrtle berries where ready for picking with Adolfo, my son’s grandfather, a long time before Marco was born. Adolfo couldn’t care less about those Doric temples which sent me into a delightful spin, he had spent too much time in concentration camps in Greece during the 2nd WW to have any affection for their sacred temples. But he loved to steal the Myrtle berries from the massive bushes that were scattered over the fields around these temples. We would all be give plastic bags and were instructed to fill them with Adolfo’s precious berries. He would then rush back to Positano and make litres of his Myrtle Berry Liqueur to see him through to the next Spring. A couple of 2 litre bottles where always stashed under his bed to keep his thirsty kids away! But before heading home we would always stop in a local trattoria for a massive Buffalo based lunch in the sun. My God, what a treat. I would stand picking my bag of berries whilst hypnotised by these breathtaking temples. Naturally we would stash our booty in the bushes if we saw any official looking guards lurking.
And every time I had a sip of Adolfo’s magnificent Myrtle Berry Liqueur during the year, I would think of Paestum with it’s Buffalo and Temples!
Adolfo’s Myrtle Berry Liqueur recipe was sacred. Good luck first finding those berries outside of Italy! OR that recipe…..I never did get it! Daniele, Adolfo’s youngest son and great chef has interpreted this recipe with Mangos, strawberries and many other exotic fruits available in Australia. Perhaps I can squeeeeze this recipe from him on his next trip to Australia. Sadly Adolfo is no longer with us, thank the Lord Daniele has so many of his wonderful recipes in his head…..AND in my book! Amalfi Coast Recipes!
ALL FOTOS BY C.COULSON
Since the Greek era, not only the temples where highlighted but also the wonderful digestive myrtle berries which were sacred to the God of Venus. These berries were understood to be the symbol of love and poetry. How amazing these temples in Paestum (the ancient Poseidonia) is surrounded by Myrtle berry bushes! Perhaps they were planted by the Greeks as a gesture to the God of Venus?
The myrtle berry was then used in perfumes and natural pharmacology & also renown for it’s magnificent oils which hold astringent and anaesthetic properties, but is was also used in cooking to give flavour to meats. Although known and well cultivated in Sardinia, it found it’s way to Campania and this nearby town to the Amalfi Coast but who knows how long ago?
The internet is full of Sardinian Recipes to make Myrtle Berry Liqueur, but most anglo countries will not sell you 95% proof alcohol in a 2 lit bottle from the local deli for just $20!!! which is how we used to make it in Positano! You also have to find fresh Myrtle berries…..the rest is easy.
But one tip when preparing Buffalo Mozzarella to eat! Fresh is best! This juicy dairy product contains a lot more liquid than the cow’s variety, Fior di Latte, and if used in cooking will exude even more and give your dish quite a watery consistency. For this reason I do not love cooked Mozzarella (from the Buffalo)…..not even on a pizza which is much better prepared with the traditional Fior di Latte variety which is naturally a bit sturdier, and better still if we are talking pizza, a few days old!
Caponata with Mozzarella di Buffola.
Agatina Semprevivo – Positano
You will find the “caponata” salad all over Italy and it is quite different in every region. The Caponata in Campania where the Amalfi Coast lies is generally prepared with dried hard bread known as le freselle or in Neapolitan “o viscuòtt” that has been quickly soaked to soften then dressed like a salad with herbs, tomatoes and oil. Sometimes other goodies like tuna or mozzarella are added. In this case we will go with the delicious and juicy ‘true’ Mozzarella……Buffola. The Sicilian one however is more like a ratatouille – a stew of “nightshade” veggies.
Although Agatina is originally Sicilian, after 40 years in Positano she prepares her caponata in pure Campania style! and will always use an excellent Buffola mozzarella if available.
6 thick slices of mozzarella di buffola chopped into 2 cm squares or better still, just ripped apart with your clean fingers at the last minute before serving.
6 slices of oven dried ciabata bread OR freselle
400 gms of ox heart or bullock tomatoes
1 white Onion
4 Basil leaves
3 good pinches Oregano
100 gm EVO
Pinch of Salt
200 gm of fresh rocket
Cut onion into chucky slices and tomato into rough wedges. Add rocket. Dress with salt oregano and oil
Using 2 -3 day old bread if you don’t have time to make your own freselle Put the bread in oven at 160 for apx 15 – 20 mins until hard and golden. When cool run the hard bread or freselle under cold water for a few seconds. They should soften immediately. Break up the bread with your hands into large bit size chunks.
Add to onion/tomato mix and toss well adding drizzles of extra virgin oil ionce you have added to Mozzarella di Buffola on the top. Eat immediately while drinking a chilled glass of white – Falanghina or Fian d’ Avellino.
. BUON APPETITO!
To get more information about our fabulous organic Buffalo Farm experience, just contact me and let me know what sort of day you’d like to spend in and around Peastum…..I’ll do the rest and give you some great eatery options on the way home as well! firstname.lastname@example.org