There is not enough that can be said about the superior quality of fresh produce. 

Coming from a family that owns agricultural farms, I grew up surrounded with fresh produce. When you experience tasting an orange straight from the tree, there is no way that you can indulge in one that is prematurely picked, in hopes to ripen by the time it makes it to its overseas destination. There is something very special about the taste and experience of fresh. If you slice up a fresh cucumber in your kitchen, you will be able to smell it from your living room. When you eat that fresh cucumber it will taste sharp, crisp and concentrated. We all know how imported produce usually tastes like! It mainly tastes of nothing, hardly offering hints of what it is, and you can barely smell the cucumber even while you are actually peeling it! Well if the actual produce is flavourless, how can we expect our food to taste good? If the tomato tastes like cardboard, then what is that tomato sauce adding to the dish? Cardboard?

You see, using fresh produce makes all the difference to the quality of your cooking. The same concoctions you cook on daily basis will be elevated and 100% tastier when you use fresh produce.

Since you are considering incorporating fresh wherever possible in your cooking, here is an excellent place to start:


Fresh Local Produce – Italian Cheese


Fresh Italian dairy products made in the UAE 
Italian Dairy Products is an authentic Italian cheese factory – established in Sharjah’s Hamriyah Free Zone. The factory is dedicated to producing high quality, locally produced Italian cheeses – made from locally sourced milk – while strictly following authentic Italian recipes.The factory crafts many types of cheeses, including fresh mozzarella, ricotta scamorza and burrata.

Putting it to the test

I had visited the factory, together with my friend Sally and the amazing Giorgio Locatelli, to taste the cheeses and see the production process. We were greeted with nothing less than the famous Italian warmth and the whole experience was just succulent. The minute you walk in, you are hit with the beautiful scent of milk. After covering up our hair and feet, the factory follows strict hygiene procedures, we were taken to the first stop, where fresh milk is loaded into tanks to begin the pasteurisation and cheese making process. We then moved to see the production of mozzarella, and were shown the artisanal techniques of testing the whey for the right elasticity. Then watched as the mozzarella was kneaded, moulded and packaged in different shapes and sizes. To tease our palates a little further, we moved on to the making of rolled mozzarella, where the cheese is craftily hand-stretched into a thin rectangle, then rolled into a tube. Just think of the various bites you can make with this rolled mozzarella! At that point, I was dreaming of chopped black olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes mixed with fresh basil leaves, spread over the unrolled mozzarella rectangle, then rolled into a swiss roll then drizzled with olive oil! Fresh Heaven for your palate…


The Making of Burrata Cheese


Still on the artisanal side, we watched as the burrata was taking shape. From a ball, to a disk, which is then stretched by hand to encase the creamy filling, into a pouch tied up to seal the treasure then hidden in water -the burrata was born. And not just any burrata, but nothing less than the best ones you have ever tried! One that hits you with its milky flavour, creamy interior and pillow-like exterior. An experience you will want to go on forever. The burrata is so good that it is almost a shame to have it with anything else – you really wouldn’t want anything to mask its delicious flavour.

We then sat to savour the variety of cheeses, from which I could not pick a favourite! Each had its own character, flavour palate and exquisiteness. From the scrumptious ricotta – which is possibly the best ricotta I have had so far – to popping baby mozzarella like popcorn and fantacising about a bowl full of that smoked mozzarella…. All the while talking about old Italian cheese traditions, authentic recipes and the quest for perfection. The importance of remaining true to the origin of each genre, and its authentic artisanal methods. where do I start or even end! This was the kind of experience in the search for which I do culinary travel, and I had never thought I was to experience it here too!

Despite being countries away from Italy, Italian Dairy Products have really brought us a little piece of Italy, without alterations! In fact they have brought it as it should be, without taking away from its authenticity, goodness or even spirit! The cheese is completely, and utterly Italian and Good.

With no additives, no preservatives, and of excellent quality, I strongly recommend that you try Italian Dairy Products and choose it when shopping for Italian ingredients. It is Italian, it is Fresh, it is Local, and it is Delicious. 

There was a time, when not much fresh produce was available in the UAE. But things are changing now, and there is a huge effort being made by many great people to bring Fresh and Local to the UAE market. This will enrich our cookery and eating experiences. We must encourage the growth of such initiatives because they add value to our lives, on many levels. We must go local, whenever possible, and in this case we are not even settling!

Did you ever have a “fresh local experience” that surprised you? I had two in Dubai, the first was when I discovered there is a farmers’ market in Souk Al Bahar (very small but existent), as I always thought Dubai is a desert where nothing grows let alone dream about a local farmers market! The second is this one right here!! Always pleasantly surprised and at awe with Dubai! Tell me your story and tell me if you have tried any fresh local products that you think I should try too!
Drop by again soon for some succulent Italian recipes and find out what I did with the cheese 🙂

PS #Iknowyouwant2know   
Giorgio Locatelli is every bit the person I thought he’d be. Extremely interesting, unapologetically opinionated, non-pretentious, and owning every ounce of Italian passion. A conversation with him is never boring, and I am very happy to have met him in person. His astounding work is but a tiny part of the person! Thank you Sally for organising this 😉

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