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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13 responses to “Italian Cheese – Made In The UAE

  1. It was a fantastic day wasn't it – and you've brought back all the scents and flavours in this post. Very impressed by your step by step photos.
    And Giorgio…well, he's the real deal isn't he. Wonderful experience and so glad to spend such a lovely day in your company.

  2. Wow! Did you post this on FB as well? For once I thought I had read the post and I was skipping it – what a miss it would have been! Giorgio Locatelli – would love to meet him. Looks very moody though! Again, a great post that takes you through the entire process. Sharing:)

  3. I can't believe you've toured an Italan cheese factory with Giorgio Locatelli, it doesn't get any better than that. Dima, I was bought a cheese making kit last year and I've made a half decent mozzarella. It is easier just to buy though, one thing I can't find very easily is the Burrata. I've wanted to try this for ages. Do you happen to know how to change a mozzarella into a Burrata?

    1. :)) I know!!! It was fantastic! You would have loved it!
      I would love a cheese making kit too! this is a treasure! Well I do not have the exact recipe, but what I have noticed about the filling is that it is a mixture of new mozzarella and cream. Where the mozzarella is soaked in the cream, then after shaping the burrata is literally taken out and straight into the pouch trying not to lose too much cream in the process.
      As for shaping the buratta, it was taking a ball of mozzarella, and flattening by hand into a disk. This disk is then pushed into the palm to create a pouch, which is then filled with the creamy mozzarella. then the tops are brought together, and tied. The whole thing dropped in water.
      This is what I have concluded, from what I saw and tasted. How exact? I am not sure!
      Cheese making kit!!!

    2. Thanks Maria for the details, I know David will be happy to know that 🙂 I am sure the craft required to master making Buratta is something that comes with years of practice. So we are very happy that you guys have brought it to us!
      Here you go David, advise from the expert 🙂 Do let us know how it goes :))

  4. Would love to see Italian Dairy Products in Bahrain! It looks like you had an amazing day and were with great company… Giorgio Locatelli and Sally! Seeing how cheese is made is quite fascinating! 🙂

    1. Hey Moya, hope all is going well 🙂 Yes it was a fab trip and a very delicious one I must say.
      Well hopefully Maria can see this comment and that they will take Italian Dairy Products to Bahrain too 🙂
      Nice to hear from you x

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