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Beyond feta: Getting to know Greek cheeses

Fine Cooking Issue 93
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Photos: Scott Phillips
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When you think of Greek cheeses, feta might be the only one that comes to mind, but it’s just one of many cheeses made in Greece. Unfortunately, only a few of them make their way to the United States. Here are some of the lesser-known Greek cheeses that are available in the U.S., including kefalotyri, a cheese that’s called for in several of the recipes in Susanna Hoffman’s A Greek Meze Party menu.

Manouri

Manouri has a shape-shifting texture that took our tasters by surprise: It crumbles like feta, but then it melts in your mouth like Brie. Manouri boasts a unique combination of ingredients: Whey from feta production is fortified with cream, which is what gives manouri its undeniable richness and gentle tang. Its flavor depends on whether it’s made with sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or a blend of the two. Eat it straight or add it to salads.

Myzithra

Myzithra is made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk, and it’s sold either fresh or aged, but you’re most likely to find the aged kind in the U.S. It has a crumbly, cottony texture, a hefty amount of salt, and an intense flavor. A little goes a long way, so it’s best used as a grating cheese in a dish with other strong flavors.

Kefalotyri

Kefalotyri is a mild aged cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a firm texture, a nutty quality (a bit like Spanish manchego), and a subtle flavor reminiscent of preserved lemons. If you’re making the mezze but can’t find any kefalotyri, use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead.

Thinly sliced, kefalotyri is great for snacking. For a more indulgent nibble you can also dredge the slices in egg and flour and then pan-fry them.

 

These cheeses can be difficult to track down, even in well-stocked cheese shops. Unless you live near a Greek grocery, your best bet is to shop online at Igourmet.com.

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