Confession: we’re a sucker for taste tests and food rankings. We staunchly feel the ketchup taste test was an epic moment in 2007 and seemingly arbitrary lists like Bauer’s Top 100 and the Top 10 Food Trends of ‘07 are brilliant works of art.
So, naturally, when the Chronicle decided to rank a hard-to-find imported product like buffalo-milk mozzarella, it was a big moment at MenuPages HQ. Plus, mozzarella di bufala is an absolute Italian delicacy, especially in the summer, when it blends perfectly with tomatoes, basil and olive oil. However, since its sublimity is dependant upon freshness and it’s made predominantly in Italy, you won’t find it easily.
The elite competition consisted of a mere four contenders: Cilento (from A.G. Ferrari Foods), Spinosa (Drager’s), Mandara (Trader Joe’s) and Gustosella (Rainbow).
Results after the jump!
The Chronicle’s five-person panel didn’t rave about any of the imports, but came to the following conclusions.
Two brands stood out and tied for the top ranking: Cilento and Spinosa.Cilento ($10.99 a pound, A.G. Ferrari) had a “smooth, tight exterior” that was “slightly chewy – which is nice.” Inside, it was “creamy” and “tender” but a little “dry.” The panel liked its “milky” flavor, which had “good dairy notes” with “reasonable salt and acidic notes.”Two tasters would buy this brand, two might and one wouldn’t.Spinosa ($8.99 for 125 grams, Draeger’s), the only one of the four to come in a flexible plastic pouch instead of a hard plastic container, had a “thin skin and creamy interior.” This cheese had “lots of flavor” and “nice salt” level. Three would buy this, one might and one would not.Third-ranked Mandara ($5.99 for 7 ounces, Trader Joe’s) fell short both for texture and flavor. This mozzarella was “grainy” with the “texture of cottage cheese,” and had a “tangy” but “decent” flavor. One would buy it, two might and two wouldn’t.In fourth place, Gustosella ($5.29 for 125 grams, Rainbow) was “salty,” “tangy” and “yeasty” but “edible.” And its texture was chewy. One might buy this cheese, three might and one wouldn’t.
Maybe you should just stick to fresh, locally-made cow’s milk mozzarella?