The day Craig Ramini decided to leave the high-tech world and pursue his passion for mozzarella, was the day Marin County hit the lotto!
His decision has brought us the taste of hand-crafted, fresh mozzarella di bufala, southern Italian style. Another locavore treat! Currently, most mozzarella di bufala in the market are imported from Italy. There are a small number of farmers in North America with water buffalos but only a few are making mozzarella. Ramini Mozzarella, located in the north San Francisco Bay Area of California, is proud to be one of the trailblazers in the United States.
What’s mozzarella di bufala?
Not all mozzarellas are born equal! There is mozzarella; yellowish, dense and stringy made commonly from cow’s milk, and then; there is pristine white, soft, creamy and moist “mozzarella di bufala” (buffalo mozzarella). Not just any buffalo, but water buffalo—majestic creatures that are very independent, dignified and mild mannered. They are a sight to behold, certainly worth a visit.
Just a tidbit on the milk: Cow’s milk has 2 – 3.6 percent butter fat content, water buffalo’s milk has 8 – 8.5 percent, very rich. The difference is enough to distinguish one cheese from another when made in the same style.
Because there is much less milk to be had from a water buffalo than a cow and the milking process is more complex, production is limited. As a result of this, distribution is also limited. In California, you can get a taste of the cheese at some Bay Area restaurants such as Farm Shop (Larkspur), Rosso Pizzaria & Mozzarella Bar (Santa Rosa & Petaluma), Pizzalina (San Anselmo) and Delfina and Locanda (both in San Francisco).
You can’t get much closer to “farm to table” than this!
There are 32 buffalos at Ramini Mozzarella, mostly the long-haired Italian breed (as opposed to the short-haired ones from Asia). All of them named after rock stars, from Grace Slick to Madonna, from Shakira to Cyndi Lauper. He raises his animals and produces his cheese right in Tomales Bay, where the weather is cool, the grass is sweet and the sight of the farm melts stress away like butter on hot toast. Craig Ramini invites you to come visit him and the animals, hold events here or simply have a picnic (but do call and schedule your visit). There is a large wooden table on a grassy knoll surrounded by redwood trees, a perfect intimate setting for a perfect afternoon picnic. So fill that basket—bring good bread and your EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), hang out with the rock stars and take a bite out of life! It is an experience that will touch your soul.
Ramini’s mozzarella di bufala is fantastic on its own or with a little olive oil. You can also use it to make a refreshing caprese salad or an eggplant parmesan. Buen provecho!
Check out my video on my food travel adventure: