Just what is it that mozzarella tastes like?
I have never thought mozzarella had much taste, is it just me? I was just reminded as I dug into a bocconcini roasted tomato salad made by an Old World grandma and finally decided to just pick out the roasted tomatoes. I love the texture, but is it really that mild or is just me?
It's a fairly mild cheese. Have you had real (fresh) buffalo mozzarella? It's a whole 'nother animal compared to most of the rubbery stuff that is sold in supermarkets.
Real buffalo mozzarella has a distinct flavor, namely that of buffalo mozzarella -- mild, yes, salty and a bit of a tang.
It's absolutely incredible with good olive oil, some basil chiffonade and coarse ground pepper. No balsamic or tomatoes needed. Go and find some!
Comparing fresh buffalo milk mozzarella to supermarket stuff isn't really fair. A better comparison would be between fresh buffalo mozzarella and freshly made cow's milk mozzarella -- what Italians call "fior di latte." It is not then so easy to dismiss the fresh cow's milk kind, which can be very good, indeed, although of a different flavor. Water buffalo milk has more than twice the butterfat content of cow's milk, which contributes greatly to its seductiveness. Also, as you point out, buffalo mozzarella has a bit of a tang, whereas cow's milk mozzarella usually doesn't.
Availability of freshly made cheese being the same, I suppose I would prefer the buffalo milk version. However, it's not the same in the US. Producers of buffalo milk cheeses have had a difficult time here. Former producers in Vermont and California had to terminate operations because of financial difficulties. I believe there is now someone in the midwest making buffalo milk mozzarella, but the cheese is only available regionally. So if my choice is between a buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy that is several days or weeks old and a cow's milk mozzarella made the same day I am buying it, I'd probably go with the latter.
Well, it would be rather wonderful to get my hands on cow's milk mozzarella made the same day, but this has proven difficult where I live. So if my only choices are the rubber crap from Belgioso or the imported and likely "older" (but, unfortunately, much more expensive) buffalo mozzarella, I'll choose the latter.
Thankfully, buffalo mozzarella is widely available in German supermarkets (at a fraction of the price), so I tend to make up for lost time during the summer months when I'm there :-)
It tastes of the protein in milk which has the name of casein and lactoglobulin.
These are the hard stuff you are left with when taking away much of the liquid. Which is part of the process.
In Italy, just across the frontier here, there are two types of Mozzarella.
Natural, as in Mozzarella di Bufalo, and what most there refer to as Industrial, or mass-produced cheese.
Natural Mozzarella, as mentioned above, does have a tangy taste. It is enjoyed and appreciated on it's own.
The Industrial version is bland, but obviously has it's uses.
I would urge you to try the natural type, or both, side by side, to experience the difference.