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Jul 17, 2008 12:24 AM

A tomato worthy of my burrata?

I'm thinking of heading down to Gioia this week to pick up some fresh burrata but, before I do, I want to make sure I have quality tomatoes to go with it.

Any rec's for any farmers markets/vendors/shops in the East SGV that have world class tomatoes right now?

Gioia Cheese Company
1605 Potrero Ave
South El Monte, CA 91733
(626) 444-6015

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  1. don't know if they're in yet, as I haven't bee in a while, but Munak ranch sells outrageous heirlooms at the Saturday Farmer's market on Arizona in Santa Monica.
    Season is awful late this year!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diana

      If I were you, I would wait a couple of weeks for the Farmer's Market ones. I was there this last weekend and there were some greenhouse-grown heirlooms, but nothing from the outdoors yet.

    2. I know they're only going to get better in the next few weeks, but the black brandywine tomato I just had with breakfast was insanely good.

      1. Are they still charging $5.00 for 1lbs? I haven't been in a while.

        1 Reply
        1. re: trojans

          Last farmers market I went to this week, the going price seems to be $4/lb.

          Have to comment with mollyomormon that the brandywine I had was also great, but then I have a weakness for heirlooms ...

        2. Munak Ranch are my absolute favorites during the peak of the season. Right now they are offering some high quality tomatoes, but they are not at their peak. Still, they are the best for quality and variety even now.

          Beylik Farms have some very nice tomatoes (I find they have the best roma/plum tomatoes if you're interested in making salsa or a tomato sauce).

          Last, Harry's Berries have some wonderfully sweet tomatoes of the smaller varieties. I find their larger, oblong red tomatoes to be the absolute sweetest around right now. They are quite dear at $6 a basket but if you're splurging then by all means get a basket.

          Any of those are plenty good for the burrata.

          I'm not sure if this is going to be a big schlep for you to get your cheese but if it is, consider one of the retailers for Gioia. the Cheese Store in Silver Lake and Bay Cities in Santa Monica both carry this product as do a handful of other shops.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Frommtron

            A lot of the better cheese stores have good burrata. it isn't a rare thing, really.

            1. re: Diana

              No not rare, but most of it comes from Gioia

              1. re: budlit

                Exactly. Gioia is pretty fantastic since it is usually fresher than the imported stuff and at a fraction of the cost. Either way, it may not be rare but it is always a very special cheese.

                1. re: budlit

                  It stays fresh for about three days so getting it fron Gioia your getting the freshest available plus they come in one lbs balls. The cheese store in BH has tiny little balls.

                  1. re: trojans

                    I'm with you on the freshness issue, but I think there is an ideal size for burrata and it's much smaller than 1 lb for me. The ratio of the mozzarella skin to the curds has to be right and I kind of like those small guys.

                    1. re: Frommtron

                      Ditto -- I like the little ones I can get from Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City -- $5 for one that is fresh, isn't too salty and just right for caprese for two.

                      1. re: Maxmillion

                        I find the 1 lbs to be just right for a caprese for one!

                2. re: Diana

                  I'm having the opposite friend gave me some beautiful home harvested heirlooms. Is there anywhere remotely close to the south bay to get good burrata?

                  1. re: Rizza

                    1. Try calling Gioia to see if any of their retailers are near you.

                    2. I've seen it at Whole Foods on occasion so you can check there.

                    3. I'm really light on knowledge of the South Bay, especially if it's not Japanese food, but if you know of a good Italian deli then I think they'll have it.

                    4. If all that turns up empty, Bay Cities is pretty much a straight, if long, shot up the 405. They have it and the Godmother sandwich, which is a marvel.

                    1. re: Frommtron

                      Thank you. I did consider trying my first Godmother today. I have been to two shops already today. First one is a new specialty store in Riviera Village. They will be getting burrata next week. ( I bought Sorio chorizo, speck from Alto Adige and Ros though.) Then to the cheese truck at the farmers market. His shipment wasn't fresh enough and he sent it back. My poor tomatoes. I am now calling around.

                    2. re: Rizza

                      I don't know if it's too late, but I've seen 1 lb. Gioia burrata last week at Wally's Wine and Spirits in Century City near Santa Monica Blvd exit off 405 - they actually have a good cheese selection:


                      I've also seen the 1/2 lb size at Monsieur Marcel's at Farmer's Market.

                      1. re: notmartha

                        Thank you. I found it! Grow produce shop in Manhattan Beach has a nice (small) cheese selection. I called. They had it. We had the MOST AMAZING tomatoes with that awesome Gioia burrata tonight. The friend with the tomatoes had some amazing, fragrant basil as well. The South Bay seems to be looking up for cheese lovers. Grow is like a tiny specialty gourmet shop. And my other new discovery Dolce Vita in Redondo Beach. I will be laying on the beach enjoying my culinary delights this weekend for sure.

                  2. re: Frommtron

                    thank you - luckily it is not far for me. and if it was, they are so nice there it really would be worth a little extra drive.

                  3. I try to grow my own. Some years are better than others. I guess I'm not alone that my heirlooms are small and late. But very sweet concentrated flavors. Chino Farms in Rancho Sante Fe has a roadside stand with the best of everything. Marry Waters from Chez Panise is known to buy there. Its a ride but worth a stop if your in the area.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Baron

                      I'm still waiting for my heirlooms to turn red - hybrids have been ripening nicely for a couple of weeks now - but they (the heirlooms) sure aren't small. I have some cherokee purples that are possibly the largest tomatoes I've ever seen. Larger than softballs!