A World-Class Mozzarella

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Photo courtesy PortaSirena.it


I love to visit Paestum. Great Greek temples, fantastic museums, Nonna Sceppa, which is a terrific restaurant, and the world's greatest mozzarella. Made by Vannulo, it's sold on-site only, never shipped.

On a recent visit, owner Tonino Palmieri showed me his latest technological advance: specially modified machinery, so his buffalo are milked on demand, when they feel like it. As a result, they produce more and richer milk, which means even better mozzarella. I was impressed.

After a mozzarella tasting (how could I resist?) Tonino took me to a restaurant at a nearby agriturismo, Porta Sirena, a farm that raises buffalo for cheese and meat, and also raises Angus beef.

I checked out the inexpensive and well-appointed rooms before lunch. Director Gianni Barlotti cares about wine and there's an enoteca wine shop where diners can choose from the lovely local or Italian selection (at reasonable prices) that he's assembled.

Chef Giuseppe Marazzini prepares lots of seasonal vegetable appetizers, tasty pasta with meat ragu, pasta e fagioli with sausage, grilled Angus beef or buffalo, and buffalo sausage. Of course, Porta Sirena's buffalo cheeses are all offered. There's a daily dessert special as well as a selection of gelati.

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at www.faithwillinger.com.

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