Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
4/2/2012 10:26:00 PM
We made our way up to Fiore's counter, where we asked for the special hero of the day: house-roasted beef and gravy with house-made mozzarella on Hoboken bread. Anything else? We eyed gorgeous mozzarella braids directly in front of us, both regular and smoked. Half a braid, please. The gentleman at the counter informed us that it would be just a few minutes -- the new batch was almost finished, and it needs to cool down a bit in order to "set."
So what was wrong with those mozzarellas on the counter? Nothing at all, except they were all of about a couple of hours old. They use those "aged" specimens on the sandwiches. Those in the know, when buying straight mutz, want it fresh from the hot water bath.
There's nowhere to eat in Fiore's so we carried our bounty back to the car and dined off the trunk, mist and drizzle be damned. The sandwich was messy perfection, leaving gravy drippings across the rear of the white car. The mutz (mozzarella is often called mutz in the Northeast, but nowhere more so than in Frank Sinatra's birthplace, Hoboken, NJ) plays an essential but supporting role in this torpedo of bovine luxury. And now we felt the need to let the cheese play lead.
That braid of mozzarella, meant to be brought home for Sue, was still warm. How could we resist? We unwrapped the cheese and cut off slices for the three of us. Sweet fancy Moses! The warm, supple cheese felt like human flesh in the hand and on the tongue. It was dripping with moisture, a little salty on the surface from its hot bath, sweet and milky within. The clean, delicate dairy flavors were revelatory -- we are, all three (the two ayersians and Bruce), fresh mozzarella fans, but this handmade fresh cheese is something else entirely! Forget about those plastic-wrapped balls from the gourmet market. With cheese this fresh, there's no better way to eat it than by itself.
We made plans to return soon to Hoboken for a bread-and-mutz-centric visit. Hoboken is famous for their spectacular Italian loaves baked in coal ovens. Hoboken bread and world-class mutz -- be still, our hearts!