Two Amazing Cheese Appetizers from Italy

The Cheesemonger

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I spent a bit of time in Italy last month and came away with a lot of cheese fodder. Hard to pick just one thing to highlight.

Two of my favorites are easily replicable now that I'm back home, and they're both super simple, super elegant starters. Or rather, aperitivi.

The first contains just four ingredients, and would be equally welcome as a starter or a dessert: Figs, pomegranate seeds, olive oil, and plum-sized balls of fresh mozzarella.

What was special about the dish was the individual portions of mozzarella, which isn't typical, since mozzarella normally comes in either 1-pound balls or cherry-sized, or "ciliegine." Ah, Italy... always the elusive offerings, you. The mozz they had made for such great presentation and serving, but if you can't find it of that dimension, just use a large portion, and make sure it's fresh. Or hey, make your own, to whatever size you like.

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The second app that was a mind-blower had even fewer ingredients. Only three. But to replicate it might be a bit harder. Or more expensive.

The star of the dish was straciatella, that is, the creamy strings of, well, cream, that's used to stuff burrata. It's basically what makes burrata, burrata.

Drizzled with olive oil and some pulverized black truffles, also in oil, and that's it. Maybe truffle oil could do the trick, if you're not opposed to it. But I almost feel like some sliced, roasted shiitakes could be a really nice substitute. Mushrooms and cream: a savory collision of earth and fat. We didn't even use bread, but you could.

Both dishes were so simple, so genius. Precisely the kind of food you can replicate if you're craving some reminiscing when you're home.

(Images: Nora Singley)

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