Today on Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to the most passionate emotion of them all, love, I feel that it is appropriate for me to declare my love. Indeed, I am very much in love…with mozzarella cheese!!! No, I am not obsessed or anything, but out of all the cheeses created in this world, could there possibly be one any more perfect. It’s so fresh and milky, and for me that’s really saying something because I hate the taste of fresh milk! A combination of drinking various kinds of foreign milk along with the whole “it was in a cow five minutes ago” tends to turn me off. However, mozzarella is a true paradox because over here, it works. The milk sours up and it’s oddly enough very delicious. While most of us appreciate mozzarella in its melted form, I also absolutely adore delicious bocconcini, little balls of fresh mozzarella tossed together in a simple salad with summer heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and light vinaigrette of sticky, sweet balsamic vinegar, and fruity extra virgin olive oil, and you can’t forget just a simple slice cut out of a fresh log with a little olive oil on top, absolute perfection. Unfortunately, there is too much of masked invaders in the mozzarella market, namely the bags of the pre-grated stuff. Now I guess that I never particularly cared about how cheese was made or who made it, but as of recently I have to say that grated mozzarella cheese is quite rank. It screams so industrial, devoid of love and freshness, heck maybe they even made the stuff with synthetic milk. All I’m trying to say is, fresh mozzarella is the undeniable king of cheeses because it’s like so available, yet difficult to obtain at the same time. I yearn to make it at home from scratch, but I can’t because I just can’t seem to find mozzarella cheese curds anywhere, and that is where the love begins. So let’s get to the “cheese” behind this article, shall we.
Pictured above here, is a picture of an eggplant bruschetta that I had in a little cafe of sorts in Nice, France. Don’t ask me what the cafe was called or where exactly it was because I don’t remember, actually I do, it was on the far end of the Cours Saleya, the open air market that dominates the center of Nice’s old town, although without a name, trying to search for this restaurant without a name would like trying to look for a needle in a haystack. Yet, fear not, for not only did I spot countless colorful menus across the city advertising this treat, but I’m pretty sure that it’s a snap to make at home.
It was something of a cross between a pizza and a more traditional bruschetta so to say. The bread was doughy, yet crispy much like how a fresh-baked French loaf would be. The oh so familiar hue of olive oil permeated through the bread, its flavor so characteristically fruity and rich of the extra virgin variety. Little chunks of roasted eggplant, something that might seem a bit unusual on a dish like this were tossed evenly across the canvas, but the true headliner of the show was that milky mozzarella. There was no denying that it was fresh. It was soft and pillowy to the touch, and it pulled apart by strands to just the right amount when you took a bite out of it. While I’m sure that this is by no means the absolute best treat to found in Nice, at that moment, when my family and I were exhausted after and eight-hour flight and hours of roaming through rows of closed restaurants on Christmas Day, that little cafe, and this meal were a true Christmas miracle. Even today, well over a year after it has passed through my mouth, I still crave here in college, where getting a good meal is so impossible to find. Anyways, I want that hot mass of love on a piece of bread, I want the steam from the cheese to re-enter my nose and fill it with the delicious aroma of gooeyness, and of course I want to return to its home, to the beautiful city of Nice.
Coming Soon: This is my inaugural post in Great Eats!, a category dedicated to outstanding food finds around the globe. Still to come in this category include posts on: my opinion on artful presentations, a revelation in college dorm dining, and my tribute to the glorious city of Barcelona.
Side Note: Take a look at the little mixed greens salad there on the side of the plate. It’s so simple yet so balancing of the rich dish, a concept that I found the French to be so good at in almost all the places I dined at in the country. It has inspired me, nowadays, to throw a little side salad on the plate with my meal.