My alarm seemed more nerve-wracking than ever when it went off this morning. I woke to a typically Nordic, grey and rainy morning. If only I could pull the blanket over my head and wake up to a sunnier day. Wishful thinking. A quick shower and a slow hand-brew of Coffee Collective’s Akmel Nuri from Ethiopia put me right on track.
An hour later I was driving towards Rødovre, a pretty ghastly little place on the outskirts of Copenhagen. I was going to meet up with some of my favourite Italians in town, the boys behind La Treccia, a small stretched-curd cheese factory. Luca and Oscar, both young and handsome, are cousins who decided little over a year ago to start making high quality artisan cheeses out of Danish organic Jersey-cow milk. The handcraft and knowhow are traditional, rooted deep in southern Italian regions of Puglia and Calabria, but these guys decided to open up their business in Denmark. La Treccia (literally ‘the braid’ because they braid together Italian and Danish food culture) was born.
“Most Danes are used to pretty bad, industrial mozzarella, but that’s all they know about Italian fresh cheeses of this type. Burrata, stracchino, ricotta and mascarpone are much less known so we were a bit nervous as to how our products would be received,” Oscar tells me.
“Today the burrata orders get bigger and bigger each week,” Luca adds.
For those of you who don’t know this delicious bundle of cream and flavour, burrata is like a shell of mozzarella filled with fresh cream and stripes of cut mozzarella. Poke it or cut it open and it explodes with the good stuff. If you get your hands on a real burrata make sure it’s fresh and room temperature before you bite into it.
La Treccia is a brand and company built on passion and love for real, good food. Luca and Oscar both come from restaurateur families, Oscar even has his own restaurant in Helsingør. Luca has been seriously into bread and pizzas but is now immersed in milk and cheese–literally. His arms and hands are pink-ish from spending hours half-bathing in warm whey. But he has an adorable smile on his face doing it, the kind that could melt any heart, even mine.
I met these guys only recently, totally by chance. A client of mine brought me to their little cheese factory in Rødovre. “Edith, you’ll die when you taste these guys’ cheeses,” my client warned me. It was an early autumn evening and the boys at La Treccia were working late. I came in and the smell of milk and whey got me high. (I just can’t get enough of that smell!). When I took the first bite of a burrata made that very morning it squirted all over my sweater. I blushed and giggled. Jesus Christ woman, behave. But the boys loved it and wanted my opinion on their project. What I tasted was by far the best burrata I’ve had outside of Italy. We became friend instantly and I help them highlight the added value in their exquisite products.
Today was my forth time hanging out with Luca and Oscar. They were in the middle of production when I stepped in. Ciao ragazzi! Four smiley faces (besides Luca and Oscar there’s Antonio and Oscar’s father-in-law helping out) welcomed me to join them in the lukewarm, humid production room. “Can I enter just like this,” I asked. “Ma certo! Just put shoe covers, and a work jacket on,” Luca shouted.
The guys work insanely fast. And the curd looked like yellowish-white candy: soft, silky and super elastic. “You have to be fast and you must control the pH of the curd, if you’re not focused you can easily messed it all up,” Oscar explains. The whole process from when the rennet is added to the milk to the ready product takes about four hours, depending on the quantities of course. Everything is handmade apart from the shaping of the mozzarella balls. I was amazed by the colour of Jersey milk. “It’s a sign of quality, it’s only organic Jersey milk that has this yellowish hue. The cows are fed with grass and other good stuff that contain high amounts of beta-Carotene, that’s why the colour’s like this,” Oscar informs me.
“Aren’t you bored of just watching us work, come on, help us,” Luca says and hands me a soft, hot ball of stretchy curd. It felt lovely, so soft and smooth. My hands turned pink in a flash. “Seriously? Can I?” I was thrilled.
The last thing I thought I’d be doing when I woke up this morning was to be making burrata, but that’s what happened. “You’re not bad for a newbie,” the boys laughed. I told them that the warm burrata felt like touching testicles.
La Treccia’s cheeses can be bought in better super markets around Copenhagen.