I am coming late to this party. Thanks to Scott R for inviting me in as I see in his above post. I want to try and clear up the mozzarella debate if possible. First, I am Fred Mortati, a food importer specializing in Italian food products for use in foodservice industry. I only work with limited number of manufacturers all of whom are leaders in their respective industries. Excuse me for the following long story but it is important in order to understand the rational being questioned above. About 9 months ago I imported my first ever shipment of Bufala Mozzarella from Caserta (prime producing region). I want to qualify this to tell you that I met this producer about 4 years ago and have visited him on each of my trips to Naples because I was most impressed with his structure, facility, and family approach. Like mine, they are a family biz and have 500 acres on which they grow corn. They also have a ranch on this property housing 2000 bufala. Lastly there is a caseficio where they make the bufala mozzarella. Every kilo of corn the bufala eats it gives a liter of milk. The bufala are milked 2x day and fresh bufala mozz is the result of the farming and ranching operation. Very impressive. Amazingly controlled from seed to cheese. I saw that Mr Iemma (owner of Lupara) was freezing the bufala mozz for sale outside of southern italy (even goods going to Milano were frozen). He explained to me that the freshness demanded could only be acheived and maintained through freezing. THIS IS AN EXACT SCIENCE. He studied methodology with food scientist in Rome and developed appropriate method of freezing the cheese (timing, temperature, and even size and structure of freezer) to maximize the performance of the thawed product. From never having imported a case of bufala mozzarella, i finally decided to try this product which i liked so much, but i had to buy a full container (the goods travel in 20' sea going containers). Roberto, as some of you know, is a great friend of mine, and his passion and dedication to quality have been helped me greatly. For the Bufala, Roberto fell in love with the product and was soon sold on the primary added benefit of CONSISTENCY. His reaction eliminated any doubts I might have had about nmy decision to launch this item. Now, why is the frozen bufala better than fresh flown in, or product made in the USA. Simple, the product made in the USA is NOT close to it's italian counterpart. It has different flavor profile and structure. The product flown in fresh from itlay instead fights a losing battle against the clock. Every hour it is less fresh then an hour earlier and every day there is a discernable difference from the day before. As a restauranteur one needs a product that consistently good. The frozen product suffers some structural damage upon freezing, but at the microbacteriological it remains perfect. The clock effectively stops for the product. Fresh producut undergoes both structural and microbacteriological decay with every passing minute. Hence the benefit. For consistency, you know that everytime you thaw the lupara bufala it will be the same. With product sent via air, it is ALWAYS different. Today 1 day old, tomorrow 2, and in a week, it can be new again... I guess everything in life is a tradeoff (unless you live next to a bufala farrm) and the frozen bufala presents the best solution. Let me be clear, however, there are those who fly product in and then freeze it when expiration date is approaching to save goods. This is NOT GOOD. The method of freezing and timing of same is INTEGRAL to the final outcome of the product. And lastly, so is the dethaw process.
Sorry for this insanely long post. Love what you guys do here. It makes my job fun.