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fresh ricotta, real milk, fresh buffalo mozzarella...where?

michael j. | Apr 9, 200301:04 PM

After returning from a tastebud-zinging trip to Italy guided by my stomach (most used guidebooks were "Eating in Italy" and "Great Eats Italy"...hey! what's this Pantheon thing beside this wonderful gelato shop?...), I once again return to wonder how I can get ingredients like I taste over there.

I frequent farmers' markets and grow a lot of my own produce. I go to the local cheese co-op, Whole Foods, Fox & Obel and Marcy St. for exceptional ripened cheeses, Paulina and Marcy St. again for salumi, etc. But I tend to be disappointed time and again by the fresh dairy products here. Overly pasteurized and bland, or chemically tasting and bland.

Coffee with milk in France or Italy is (for me) this overwhelmingly luxurious, creamy, wonderful sensation, not just because of their coffee prowess, but because of the quality of the fresh milk. The taste not only bursts with freshness in the explosive way a ripe acidic Sauvignon Blanc or the like can explode in your mouth with fruitiness, but there are all sorts of other milky, cowy, creamy flavors there.

My eyes practically rolled back in my head when I had a pizza with artichoke and fresh ricotta - what was this stuff? Not the grainy ricotta I grew up with! It was like a cloud of dairy heaven - smooth, buttery, light, a joy! I've had fresh ricotta that the Great American Cheese Coop sells (it's made in Canada), but they're only at Farmer's markets.

Then the fresh buffalo mozzarella - again, pure, unsalty, non-rubberized, tasting of clean dairy flavor, the sun gently rising over grassy meadows, etc.

Where can I reliably get these year round here in Chicago? Or even seasonally? I'll travel. I'll pay a premium (don't notice too many buffalo nearby, for instance). Where can I get non-overly pasteurized milk, fresh ricotta that's worth it, and fresh buffalo mozzarella?

I've tried some of the places on Harlem, but to no avail (though this was not a thorough search).

Help, please. I'm hungry.

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