I’m going to start off this article by saying straight away that I did not have this idea by myself. While one of my Mauritian friends was in Paris about a year ago, his sister Anna invited us both to dinner one night in her lovely flat in the 9th arrondissement.
I can’t remember what we had for dinner – although I’m sure it was delicious as always – but the appetizer was quite a revelation.
After having climbed the 5 flights of stairs – with some difficulty – we sat down around the coffee table with glasses of crisp white wine and the prospect of a lovely evening ahead.
I looked curiously at the bowl placed in front of me: a mozzarella-like substance stared back at me, covered in a generous amount of snipped fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. A basket of crusty French baguette was sitting next to it, and little did I know that this simple appetizer would be so surprising to me.
Burrata! Fresh Italian burrata that had been made that very same day IN ITALY and imported to an authentic Italian restaurant in Paris. It tasted like mozzarella, but better: softer and creamier, and of course much more flavorsome and decadent than the bland mozzarella I sometimes buy at the supermarket in the summer months.
We tore off pieces of the creamy cheese with forks and smothered it on the fresh bread, fighting each other for the olive oil and basil leaves that gathered bit by bit at the bottom of the bowl.
Since then, I await invitations to Anna’s apartment with even more excitement than before, as I hope that we will be lucky enough to repeat the experience. And although it has happened several times since then, and I have bought my own fresh burrata more than once, it still feels like a real treat. Perhaps because so many appetizers are store-bought crackers that taste fine but don’t have any real nutritional value. And of course, always because of the people that come with the cheese! Burrata and good company, what more could I want?
Fresh burrata appetizer
Serves 4 for a decadent appetizer, 6 for a lighter one
One ball of fresh burrata (you can find it in Paris at Mmmozza on Wednesdays for about 7 euros)
10-15 fresh basil leaves
Good quality olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the burrata in a shallow bowl and cut into eighths
Drizzle generously with olive oil and grind pepper over the top
Wash and dry the basil leaves and roughly snip them so the pieces fall into the bowl, on top and sides of the burrata
Serve with pieces of crusty French bread