Is This Love Affair Over?

I am sandwiched between two lone male diners. Not in the biblical sense, obviously, they wouldn’t be dining if they were sandwiching me (if that is even a term) and I’m not sure I’d refer to them as “lone” males if we were midway through performing some kind of debaucherous act.

No, I merely mean that I am sitting (also alone) at a table in a restaurant and the tables either side of me are occupied by lone male diners. I could have said it like that to start off with, but that would have deprived you of the lasting mental image of me being “sandwiched”.

Anyway, I write with important news, because I think I may be at the end of my love affair with burrata. You know burrata, the incredibly rich and creamy italian cheese – it looks like a ball of mozzarella di buffala, but it’s milkier and more surprising. If I was to accurately describe it, I’d call it a cheese sack filled with cream, but that has to be the least appealing description of any foodstuff ever, so I’ll leave it to finecooking.com who say:

“burrata is a supple pouch of tender mozzarella stuffed with stracciatella, a luscious blend of fresh cream and soft mozzarella shreds”.

Supple pouch. Supple. Pouch. I’m not sure which is worse: cheese sack, or supple pouch.

Getting back to the matter in hand; my love affair with burrata. We’ve been all over the world together – Paris, L.A., New York, London, Tokyo – and I’ve been faithful, dear reader, choosing burrata over almost anything else when given the choice.  But things are fizzling out. It’s not actually the burrata’s fault, because I still love it, the big supple pouch of a bastard, the plump white orb of goodness; it’s what chef’s are doing to it that is turning me off. What they’re serving it with.

It seems to have become de rigueur to serve it a) completely by itself or b) with something that simply doesn’t do it any favours at all. Gives it no help. And you might say “oh, but burrata doesn’t need any help, it’s perfection the way it is!”

But try eating a whole, large burrata with nothing else on the plate. Which is how I’ve been served it a few times. It’s just too decadent, too rich. My body can’t cope with it. It’s so gloriously creamy, with its mozzarella shell and liquidy insides, but it’s (whispers) too much of a good thing.

In my very humble opinion (I say humble, but I must have eaten over eighty thousand burratas, so in a way I’m probably a world expert) the best way to eat a burrata is with something ever so slightly sharp, or tangy, beside it. My preference would be that there was something involving tomatoes, but equally it could be some peppers that have been charred, skinned, marinated in something slightly acidic. A quality balsamic, perhaps.

I don’t know, I’m just giving you my thoughts.

Of course the ultimate delight, if bodies didn’t have arteries that had to be kept relatively unclogged, would be a huge bowl of penne with an incredibly spicy tomato sauce and then a massive great big sac magique of burrata plonked on the top. Quivering. Ready to explode all over the spicy sauce and extinguish the fire. See? Balance!

Instead, I get given: a burrata on a plate, a sea of cream, some sprigs of what looks like thyme sprinkled on top. Which also makes no sense – why thyme? Or, in one overly-wholesome place, a burrata served next to an avocado purée, which was just nonsense, a triangular plate-shaped mess of expensive baby food.

And now I sit here, amongst my lone male diners, staring at another burrata creation: burrata with pine nuts (meh) and chargrilled broccoli. Broccoli!

The broccoli is offering nothing in the way of flavour, nothing strong enough to contrast with the milkiness of the cheese. It’s just faintly like guff, broccoli, and I love it but at the same time it’s not worthy of a place at the table with King Burrata.

And this meal was going so well, too. The ceviche starter was excellent. I even gave it my undivided attention, because my iPhone battery has died and I didn’t want to accidentally make eye contact with other humans. Not the ones here, at any rate. I’m not cool enough for the people here – the men all have fisherman’s beards and are wearing jeggings and there’s a girl wearing what seems to be a non-ironic tiger outfit, complete with tail. When I walked in wearing my tracksuit I saw the sea of eyes upon me; I’d have been less conspicuous had I weaved my way through the restaurant on a Penny Farthing blowing on a hunting bugle.

Now the dessert is here; deconstructed fig tatin. I thought that a tarte tatin was pretty deconstructed to start with – pastry, fruit, caramel – but here we are with it brought down to even humbler components. Wait: two of said components are missing. This is just figs and ice cream. Where’s the bloody pastry? Where’s the tatin? It costs 8.5, which means eight and a half pounds, to those of you who are used to the normal pricing system, which tends to work quite well so why mess with it, which I think is extortionate for three figs and a scoop of vanilla.

But this is not a restaurant review, I merely popped in to talk about burrata. Pressing issues, people, pressing issues. The man beside me has just leant in and asked me a dubious, conversation-opening question about wine – wine! – which means possible social contact and a potential awkward situation: time for me to run like the wind! I’ll not be the filling in your lone diner sandwich, matey!

Questions to answer: do you like burrata? If so, am I right about the accompaniments or amiright? Opinions below.

“Supple pouch.”

NB: the burrata in the image is actually a Claridges one, which was – incidentally – delicious, but appearance-wise scored low. Whatever the hell it was served upon looked like a bed of maggots. The cheese was, as expected, delightful, but where was the tanginess? Something contrasty? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where!

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40 Comments

  1. Louise
    February 14, 2020 / 9:22 am

    This just made me snort in the office and it’s only my third week..I need to leave forever now.

    Burrata should only be served one way – with heritage tomatoes and some sort of delectable herb oil, preferably basil. But the above garlic toast option does sound delicious and may change everything.

  2. Sara
    February 14, 2020 / 2:23 am

    Best burrata salad. A bed of lovely rocket with cherry tomatoes, figs and a balsamic dressing. Heaven!!!
    Perfect contrast.
    Please do try and give it a last chance. Burrata is worth it

  3. February 13, 2020 / 2:02 pm

    I adore Burrara. But only with something like tomatoes, something acidic, never just plain. That doesn’t work, a king needs his entourage.

    Anne from “Doctor Anne”

    • February 13, 2020 / 2:42 pm

      “a king needs his entourage”: I love you

  4. Sue
    February 13, 2020 / 10:21 am

    Ruth, May I suggest you eat the best Italian ingredients at an eaterie that has genuine Italian ppl running it. This way you can enjoy your burrata as it’s meant to be eaten. Only way to go, my friend. Other nations just don’t get the exquisite balance needed for the best Italian foods.

  5. Magda
    February 12, 2020 / 9:13 pm

    Brilliant post. Had a shitty day and this cheered me up no end.
    I’ve tried burrata before but found it a bit too much. Probably should have had it with something nice and spicy or at least tangy.

    • February 13, 2020 / 2:43 pm

      Yes, you didn’t experience the magique of the sac magique.

  6. Heather
    February 12, 2020 / 7:49 pm

    Oh ma God I love a burrata, my husband doesnt get it…I just don’t get anyone who DOESN’T get it to be honest. I hear you about the accompanying bits, very important and should definitely involve tomatoes in my humble opinion. Excellent blog post about burrata, and the only one (of all blogs ever) that I’ve felt compelled to comment on!

  7. Louise M
    February 12, 2020 / 6:04 pm

    This is absolutely brilliant. I’m laughing out loud while waiting to see my daughter’s Maths teacher at Parents Evening. Obviously been wasting my life as I’m unfamiliar with Burrata. How can it have passed me by? The supple pouch shall be mine this weekend though!

  8. Susan Moran
    February 12, 2020 / 5:47 pm

    Just past lunch here in the frozen north but now I’m starving. Your always beautiful and evocative writing is the culprit, can’t say I mind. You have perfectly described my notions regarding all food: balance! I’m one of those people who are always looking for something that goes with something, not happy with simply something (probably why I adore Indian food, they really get it). Hopefully you don’t have to give up the voluptuous buratta, maybe ask your server “could I possibly have a pickle with this?”

  9. Julia
    February 12, 2020 / 4:43 pm

    Rocket (arugula), or watercress, and tomato. Italian bread, regular or toasted with some garlic. Olive oil and salt, to taste or none. Can’t think of anything else that makes much sense.

  10. Nicki
    February 12, 2020 / 4:38 pm

    I don’t think ‘supple pouch’ and ‘men in leggings’ should exist in the same paragraph. That’s what put you off your burrata Ruth, right there!! I’ve never had the stuff myself but I’d reckon you were bob-on with your suggested accompaniments. Can’t believe you saw a furry out in the wild, I thought my kids were winding me up when they told me about this sub-culture! Probably more exciting than wearing head to toe grey marl

  11. Chloe
    February 12, 2020 / 4:07 pm

    Burrata, some quality cherry tomatoes in the middle of summer a drizzle of good quality olive oil and salt and pepper that’s all you need! People have started to pair it with the strangest things!

    • Oriella
      February 13, 2020 / 7:46 pm

      All you need for your burrata is a bed of lettuce, some fresh tomatoes, basil if you like it, and extra Virgin olive oil. I loved your post and your good taste!
      Just a pet peeve: it’s “bufala” with one “f”!

  12. February 12, 2020 / 3:44 pm

    I haven’t had burrata as i’m weird about cheese but it is similar to how I feel about Falafel and hummus together – I don’t understand why a ball of chickpeas is served with a paste of chickpeas? Especially when it is then sometimes put in a wrap? To me, falafel needs a sauce which cuts through and provides freshness for the earthiness, like tzatziki. I feel strongly about this.

    • Charlotte
      February 13, 2020 / 10:24 am

      Yes this!!!

  13. Susan Schaefer
    February 12, 2020 / 2:24 pm

    What about serving it with some lovely arugula that’s been dressed in a vinaigrette? A bit of tangy acidity to balance all that delicious creaminess.

    Now I’m hungry.

  14. Babs
    February 12, 2020 / 1:53 pm

    I have been also getting over my love affair with burrata. I usually get it served with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar or with garlic-toasted bread. So good, but it just doesn’t hold the appeal it once did. Love your posts!

  15. Kaya
    February 12, 2020 / 1:23 pm

    Loooove burrata on pasta with the simplest of tomato sauces, or on a wedge salad with lots of tomatoes!

  16. Ann Farr
    February 12, 2020 / 1:19 pm

    You’re so right about burrata’s accompaniments – got to be tomato-y. The thought of a burrata on cream is, frankly, nauseating! But burrata and tomatoes – oh absolutely scrumptious!

  17. Beth
    February 12, 2020 / 1:04 pm

    I had a wonderful burrata on Sunday with artichoke and truffle vinaigrette. The good ones are still out there. Don’t give up on them!

  18. February 12, 2020 / 12:40 pm

    Ouh la la, I didn’t know about ‘burrata’, just as well, as it’s now on my discovery list for this year.

    • Liz
      March 7, 2020 / 9:57 am

      Supple pouch good lord. I’d want it with some crusty sourdough, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it.

  19. Luise
    February 12, 2020 / 12:22 pm

    The best burrata I ever had was on top of a pizza which was basically a very thin salty crust with heaps of tangy tomato sauce, garlic and basil. That was so utterly devine!

    • Juliet
      February 12, 2020 / 4:21 pm

      That is perfection! Texture, acid. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.

  20. Marijke
    February 12, 2020 / 9:20 am

    Hi Ruth,

    You are such a good writer, always hitting the nail on the head! Thank you for all your content. Also, just so you know, when I first fell pregnant and watched your video dairies it probably saved my sanity.

    Back to King Burrata. Yes, balance in key and nothing can do a better job than accidity. This is why my favourite is this: https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/ottolenghis-burrata-with-blood-orange-coriander-seeds-and-lavender-oil

    I had it in the restaurant, promptly bought the recipe book and make it every weekend this time of year.

  21. Cynthia
    February 12, 2020 / 9:01 am

    One word, Ruth: truffle ;)

  22. Jane F
    February 12, 2020 / 8:25 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that had the term Supple Pouch written so many times. Conjures up some wide-eyed images if I do say so myself. Thanks for the laugh though this post was just what I needed today. Can’t say I’ve tried Burrata either – and I don’t think I will now thanks :)

    • February 12, 2020 / 10:56 am

      Do it! But have it with something…tangy.

  23. Erica
    February 12, 2020 / 8:14 am

    First off, you are delightful as a food commentator. Please do more.

    Second, I now want… no, need…a bowl of spicy penne topped with a supple sac of burrata. Mmmmmm

    • February 12, 2020 / 10:57 am

      I know, I made myself so hungry writing that!

    • Gillian Pidler
      February 12, 2020 / 1:45 pm

      You are not alone! I’m fasting today and now I’m starving!!

  24. Lara
    February 12, 2020 / 8:13 am

    Best burrata I ever had was lovingly placed on toast rubbed with garlic and served with lightly pickled gooseberries on the side. It was perfect.

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