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For many years this sweet, gooey cheese was one of the best kept secrets of Apulian cuisine. All of that has changed in the last decade as burrata has taken its place as a choice delicacy on the menus of the world's finest restaurants. Rich and creamy yet also light and fresh, it should certainly top your gastronomic to-do list if you're wondering what to eat in Brindisi and other neighbouring towns.
Thought to date back to the early 1900s, the recipe originated on a farm near the town of Andria in the Apulia region. However, it didn't become a staple dish until the 1950s and even then its popularity remained confined to the heel of Italy. This is in large part because it has a very short shelf life, even when refrigerated. But what it lacks in longevity it makes up for in taste.
Burrata is made from mozzarella curds which are stretched and shaped into a thin pouch. This is then filled with a mixture of cream and stracciatella di bufala - a soft cheese formed from buffalo milk which has a distinctively stringy texture (hence its name, which means "little shreds"). Alternative recipes use mozzarella scraps or a blend of sugar and butter for the soft centre, but it's the stracciatella version which is generally considered to be the most delicious.
When shopping for the cheese at food shops and farmers' markets, it's important to buy it fresh. Ideally, it should be eaten within 24 to 48 hours of being made, and it won't keep for more than three or four days. Traditionally, it's sold wrapped in green asphodel leaves which age at the same rate as the cheese; when the leaves turn yellow, the cheese is no longer edible.
It's best served with the utmost simplicity, which makes it perfect to share on a romantic picnic, whether you pair it with a crunchy rocket salad, some slices of crusty bread or chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively, you can enjoy it at your holiday apartment with a sprinkling of nuts and herbs or mopped up with crispy, hot bruschetta. Either way, savouring this very special cheese should be a highlight of any trip to Apulia.