We all must agree, that the Italian Cuisine has conquered the whole wide world. In every corner of it we find either restaurants or just private kitchens, where pasta and pizza and much more is cooking in the pots and ovens. Sharm el Sheikh is not an exception either, and lately we have a new additional delicacy that satisfies all Italian gourmet lovers. The fresh “mozzarella di buffala” – a semisoft, mild Italian cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo. This creamy cheese originally produced in Southern Italy has won fans the world over, and its versatility in the kitchen has assured it a starring role in Italian cuisine.
I heard about the small, family operated mozzarella factory here in our neighborhood and went to see, how exactly mozzarella is made at the Zio Seba Company, right behind Metro in Hadaba. Entering the extremely clean and neat laboratory, I met Mr. Masoud Makhlouf, the director of the production.
The factory’s name is coming from an Italian man, Sig. Seba, who by living in Sharm was missing this delicacy from his and his friends’ table. He decided to go to the source, in southern Italy in 2008, to learn the technique to make fresh cheese for the joy of everyone. He produced at first at home, sharing the cheese only with his friends, but due to its popularity soon realized, there is a great need on the market and started production in his laboratory by 20 kg of cheese a day. In a few years he was bound to enlarge the production by the growing requests of his clients. Today, apart the private people, even the 80% of the restaurants and hotels in Sharm are using his fresh and delicious buffalo mozzarella in their kitchens.
Their mozzarella is a stringy textured cheese with porcelain-white color, which has an extremely thin rind and delicate taste. When cut, it produces a white watery fluid with the aroma of milk enzymes. Apart from its typical round shape mozzarella cheese, they also produce the famous Italian cottage cheese called “ricotta” (salty or sweet), also from the milk of the water-buffalo.
They are making fresh cheese every day, while their products are entirely organic, meaning, that they don’t use any chemical to conserve it for a longer expiry date. The buffalo milk they use is on arrival every day and the additional materials are originally from Italy. The procedure of making the cheese and ricotta is happening in a very clean and neat environment. “ We are making the cheese like we would do for our own families, by heart and respect, I feel home here, my passion and business found each other in one.” – said Mr. Makhlouf. – “ We use the highest quality of milk, hygiene is most important, which we constantly control, special boots , overalls and aprons are obliged to wear in the laboratory.”
The milk is brought in, curdled, then drained to eliminate the whey. After this the curd is cut into small pieces, then ground up in a sort of primitive mill. At this point, reduced to crumbles, the curd is put into a mold and immersed in hot water, where it is stirred until it takes on a rubbery texture. The cheesemaker kneads it with his hands, like a baker making bread, until he obtains a smooth, shiny paste, a strand of which he pulls out and lops off, forming the individual mozzarella (“mozzare” in Italian in fact means to lop off). These in turn are put into cold water and then to soak in brine. The cheese absorbs as much salt, as is necessary and has to take on consistency. In the end, it must not be soft and mushy when cut but fibrous and elastic, so that, if poked it springs back to its original shape. Mozzarella, prepared in the evening is ready the next morning, oozing with freshness and richly flavored.
“Making mozzarella is all about timing and the quality of the buffalo milk. Timing is experience, but also requires maximum attention each time, while the seasonal feeding of the animals change the consistence and quality of the milk. Buffalo milk is rich in fats, that makes it so adapt to make the best quality.” – he said. – “ As for the freshness, we keep our customers sure, that if they didn’t use up their mozzarella in a week time, they can bring it back and we’ll change it to fresh products for them.”
In the future, they are planning to open a proper cheese shop with wide range of quality and variety of cheeses, specialized only in milk products. There is an ongoing experiment to prepare fresh buffalo butter, which we’ll find hopefully soon at our homes. In the meantime, we all can enjoy this delicate cheese and the salty and the sweet ricotta already. Great for salads and appetizers or serve it with fresh tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh basil. The mozzarella melts beautifully and has a unique stretchiness, making it the classic pizza or lasagna topping cheese. The ricotta is beloved by the children, using it for pasta dishes, sweets, cakes and nice to have it on the breakfast table as well.
To order mozzarella directly from the factory, you can call Mr. Masoud on 01140002232. If you wish – apart from the traditional round form – they can prepare braids or tiny bites of mozzarelline.