Recently, I met up with ladies of the Traveling Gourmets group for a tasting of mozzarella and wine at Casa Mozzarella and Bibarium, two local shops in Geneva. It was an afternoon of total indulgence.

We started with an overview of the cheesemaking process at Casa Mozzarella. Ludovica, the shopkeeper, explained how they make different types of cheeses including mozzarella, ricotta, and pecorino.

Just a few of the cheeses for sale at Casa Mozzarella

The shop is part of a cooperative that receives daily shipments of local milk. Depending on the season and demand, deliveries range from 350 to 500 liters each day (approximately 130 gallons). Ludovica said the cheesemakers call milk “the white devil” owing to how its flavor and condition can change every day depending on diet, seasonal variations, and even the moods of the cows.

Ludovica shows us the cheesemaker’s attempt at shaping a mozzarella cow. She said she thought it more closely resembled Homer Simpson. You be the judge!

Where all of Casa Mozzarella’s cheese is made. There’s a big window that faces the street where, if you’re early enough (usually before 10 a.m.), you can see the cheesemakers at work.

After the cheesemaking discussion, we headed a few doors down the block to Bibarium, a wine bar that partners with Casa Mozzarella. Our tasting included sheep’s milk ricotta, cow’s milk ricotta, mozzarella rolled with carrots and herbs, fresh burrata, smoked mozzarella, and aged mozzarella, plus homemade focaccia, green salad, tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.

Ludovica topped a pan-sized sheet of mozzarella with a mix of carrots, arugula and herbs. Then, she rolled the mozzarella tightly and let it rest until serving time. This was one of my favorite dishes.

Each of us filled our plates, then sat down for a couple of hours of conversation with great food and Swiss wine.

Ludovica (right) and Caroline (left) explain our mozzarella and wine tasting

My plate. I tried some of everything – twice!

My favorite cheese after the rolled mozzarella was the burrata: a casing of mozzarella surrounds fresh cream and stracciatella, mozzarella curds that have been stretched and shredded (not to be confused with the gelato of the same name). I saved the burrata and a bit of the focaccia for last. I cut into the ball and let it ooze for a few minutes before scooping it all up and fighting the urge to have another!

Fresh burrata

With the cheese came wine. Bibarium specializes in “bottle in bag (BIB)” style (known in some other countries as boxed) wine. This wasn’t your standard issue boxed wine with a bad reputation. Caroline, one of the Bibarium employees, explained how BIB wine in Europe is higher quality than it used to be, something true back in the US as well. When starting their business, owners of Bibarium persuaded one of the top local winemakers to collaborate with them after being turned down by almost everyone in the area. Today, they collaborate with a large number of Swiss and French vintners.

Compared to bottled wines, BIBs have their advantages: BIB wines keep air out, allowing the wine to stay good for a few weeks; they are easier to transport; and they require less packaging. Many of the vintages available in boxed form are also sold by the bottle – it’s not like they reserve the worst or most substandard of the lot for boxes. The boxed wines are all high quality. Trust me – we tasted. And tasted!

The meal’s finale was a plate of cannoli, with shells imported from Sicily and ricotta made next door. Even if I tried, I couldn’t put it into words how delicious they were!

The days may be getting colder and shorter here in Geneva, but with cheeses like this available and a BIB or two on hand, I’ll have no problem leaving summer behind to return to the kitchen and cook my way through the winter.

For more information:

Casa Mozzarella is located at Rue Dizerens 1, 1205 Geneva in the Plainpalais neighborhood. It’s on the 12 tram line between stops Pont-d’Arve and Augustins. Bibarium is two doors down at Rue Dizerens 5. Both shops are open weekdays and Saturdays.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/

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