“It’s great to have a beautiful restaurant with brilliant food and service, but if you can translate that into simple things like gelato, or maybe pizza, then you might actually be able to make some money as well.”
Buffalo mozzarella en croute
Degree of difficulty 🔪🔪 Serves 4
“I love my cheese” says D’Sylva, who is a big fan of That’s Amore cheesemakers in Thomastown, Melbourne. That’s Amore founder Giorgio Linguanti arrived in Melbourne from Sicily in 2004 with no cheese-making experience, and now employs 100 staff and exports cheese to 10 countries. “His fresh cheeses are brilliant, I use them in everything.”
For this dish, D’Sylva bakes a whole mozzarella with truffle paste inside puff pastry (“if you can’t find Italian truffle paste at a gourmet food store, use an olive tapenade or pesto instead”) and serves it with a feisty relish of fresh leaves, preserved lemon and olive oil. “It’s pretty simple but has a big wow factor,” he says. “Make sure you cut it in half at the table, so the warm cheese oozes out and everyone goes ‘wow’.”
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 125g buffalo mozzarella, drained
- 20g Italian truffle paste
- Handful of baby rocket and extra leaves for garnish
- 1 quarter preserved lemon, rinsed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Pons extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
First, heat the oven to 220C and place your puff pastry on a lightly floured bench. Cut it into a 20cm x 20cm square and brush the top with truffle paste.
Place the mozzarella ball in the middle and bring the pastry up around it, pinching the corners together to form a pyramid. Brush with the beaten egg and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Place on an oven tray lined with a sheet of baking paper and bake for 12 minutes until the pastry is golden and the cheese smells amazing.
While the cheese is baking, blend the baby rocket, preserved lemon, lemon juice and olive oil for one minute to make a fresh, tangy relish.
Serve the baked mozzarella with a swirl of the relish and the extra leaves and preserved lemon. The final “benediction” is a slow drizzle of very fine extra virgin olive oil.
The good oil
Pons Primum Oleum is a fresh, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil pressed from the very first Arbequina olives of the season at the fourth-generation Pons estate in Lleida, west of Barcelona, Catalonia. “I love its nuttiness and how intensely green it is from the Arbequina olives,” says D’Sylva. Available in a striking 1.5-litre glass amphora ($125), it’s ideal for self-gifting.