Did you know that here in Italy, the best mozzarella you can get is made from buffalo milk? Yesterday we got the opportunity to tour Taverna Penta, a dairy farm located about 30 minutes outside of Salerno that is home to 600 buffaloes! Because these parts of southern Italy were once swamp land, water buffalo were known to inhabit the land and thus the magic of buffalo milk mozzarella was born!
At the farm I got the chance to see a handful of their herd of 600, and I can tell you first hand that these are some beautiful animals. With the exception of driving by a herd of bison in rural Texas once, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to truly see a water buffalo in all its glory. And, I’ve certainly never been so close to one that I could reach out and pet it!
Fun fact: they actually give names to all 600 of their buffaloes kept on the farm!
After touring the grounds and hearing all about the buffalo’s end of the work done here at the farm, we took a short ride into town where the milk is turned into various dairy products ranging from mozzarella to ricotta to yogurt and even their own gelato! Taverna Penta has been herding buffalo since the mid-1700’s (I know right!) and you can taste it! The mild tang of the cheese in combination with the creamy, yet firm will certainly leave you coming back for more. There’s no way I’ll be going back to cow’s milk mozzarella any time soon!
Pro tip: Look for mozzarella with the marking “DOP” on it. This means ‘Protected Designation of Origin’, so you can be sure that you’re getting locally grown and packaged products (aka the good stuff!).
While the mozzarella was fantastic, I just could not leave this place without trying some of their homemade buffalo milk yogurt. I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to yogurt, but this stuff was no joke! My only regret is not going back to grab more to go! If you get the chance, try a spoonful of this stuff and your yogurt game will forever be changed.
This experience has turned out to be one of my favorites thus far. If you ever have the chance to visit the Campania region (where mozzarella was originally founded!!!) don’t skip this once in a lifetime opportunity. A real treat for all the senses, my mozzarella game has officially been stepped up!
Ciao a tutti!