My brother and I have been partners in crime for more years than either of us are prepared to admit.
We fought like cats and dogs when we were growing up, and one of the proudest moments of my life is still the time during a loooooong car ride to Vermont when I tricked him into finishing his McDonalds fries before I finished mine…and then stretching mine out for the remainder of the four hour trip. (“Boy, these fries are SO good. I bet you wish you still had some. Mmmmmmmm.”)
You’d think that after that he wouldn’t have my back…but he always does. Through ups and downs, thick and thin. My bro. He also gave me one of the great gifts of my life, which is this character, otherwise known as my adorable nephew, otherwise known as the handsomest boy on the planet.
Anyway, I do have a point with all of this, and here it is: he also turned me on to the best, and I mean the BEST mozzarella cheese I have ever tasted in my life. The first time I tried it, the Southern husband and I literally stood there in the kitchen and ate the whole hunk of it. No putting it into lasagna, not even a cracker – I’m not sure we even used a knife, we may have just ripped pieces off of it and guzzled it until it was gone.
And now basically all other mozzarella cheese in the world has been ruined for me, so when decided to make these cute little caprese bites, it involved driving a half hour down and another half hour back to my brother’s town to buy a nice big piece of this cheese. Which did have the extra bonus of getting to hang out with him for a little while, so there was that.
If you are lucky enough to live in the northern New Jersey area and want to experience mozzarella cheese nirvana, it comes from Vito’s Bakery (yes, bakery…no idea why and not asking questions) in Secaucus, New Jersey. They make it fresh there three times daily, and whatever they are doing, I hope they never ever stop. If you don’t, just nab a piece of the best mozzarella cheese you can find. This is the perfect little nibble to make right now when the cherry tomatoes and basil are at their delicious peak. All you do is slice the tomatoes in half, cut the cheese into tomato size cubes, and spear everything on a toothpick in this order: tomato half, cheese cube, other tomato half, basil leaf. If you have the tomato half with the stem side on the bottom, it will do a good job of standing upright since it is flatter.
Now mix up some balsamic vinegar with some olive oil and some fresh ground pepper and drizzle it over and around the caprese bites. And dig in – pop the whole thing in your mouth at once for the perfect sensation of tomato, cheese and basil. Mmmm, mmm, mmm. Even better than that last McDonald’s french fry.
- 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Combine oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a measuring cup. Place the mozzarella cubes on a plate in a single layer and drizzle them with the vinegar mixture.
- Thread 1 basil leaf, tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto toothpicks. If you want them to stand up on your serving plate, make sure the tomato half on the bottom is the one with the stem end - that side tends to be flatter.
- Arrange them on a plate and serve at once.