Good morning! The last week of the Greek Carnival is here! It is called Cheese week! It got its name from the fact that all of the cheese and dairy products in the home are consumed before the beginning of Lent.
During this week eating meat is not allowed. It is actually considered a great sin to do so since you are allowed to eat any cheese or dairy products. Something similar to the apple in the Garden of Eden!
Cheese week is one of our most favored weeks here at Kitchen Lab since we love cheeses, crèmes, yogurt and milk! To celebrate this year’s cheese week we thought it would be nice to visit 3 of our favorite shops and ask them to suggest 3 of their favorite cheeses.. 3 different or unique cheeses that they would like to share with us…
We started off at a shop in the center of Athens called “The Mediterranean Diet Deli”.
It is located on Sofokleos street across from the Stock Market. It really has a large variety of great Greek products… their choices in olive oils and honey are exceptional..
They suggested 3 special cheeses for us.
An organic goat cheese from the island of Sifnos called “Manoura Gilomeni”. It is soaked in wine for a few days and then in fermented in lees which give its characteristic color and aroma. They say that if you eat too much of it you can get drunk! An intense and spicy cheese that loves to be accompanied by wine or tsipouro!
Then next cheese was small sized cheese that looks like a rock or a pear from the island of Andros. It is made from cow’s milk and gives an amazing flavor when added to pasta and rice dishes. For many it is considered better than parmesan!
The last cheese comes from the island of Naxos.
It is called “Arseniko” or the male Kefalotyri made from sheep milk. A quite “famous” cheese that has been aged for 6 months and is often brushed with olive oil as it ages which adds a wonderful aroma!
The next shop we visited was the Provence deli. It used to be located in Glyfada and for better or worse it moved to Ambelokipi (Theofanous 12). I say for worse because it is now located very close to us and we can’t resist all of the amazing assortment of cheese it carries! Mostly French but also Italian and some Greek cheeses.
Here they suggested:
A classic Italian “blue” cheese that won the important distinction for the best blue cheese in the Alma Cassius Awards. Just as the Manoura from Sifnos, it is fermented in wine lees which give it a really nice color on the outside as well as a delicious flavor. The aged cranberries used to make it also lend a unique flavor, a special sweetness and acidity.
OSSAU IRATY AOP AGED FOR 12 MONTHS (BEST CHEESE OF THE WORLD 2012)
This cheese has won the World Cheese Awards twice and is considered the best cheese in the world! It is made with fresh, non-pasteurized 100% sheep milk and only from the Manech sheep breed. Made in Basque country in Spain.
It offers a balanced and long aftertaste. You eat a little bit of it and the taste lingers in your mouth.
COMTE AGED FOR 24 MONTHS AOP ARNAUD
It is made with milk from farms above 1000 m in altitude and aged for 24 months in natural cellars at an altitude of 1150 m. A light but rich taste.
The last shop we visited is right in our own neighborhood in Agia Paraskevi! “Pandesia” which can be translated as “feast”! You can find it on 41 Agiou Ioannou street. Gianni and Teta who are in the shop have a vast knowledge and understanding of Greek products and can help you choose the best products for any dish or dinner you want to prepare. We usually go to them especially when we are looking for something “strange” or different or even just when we want to do our weekly shopping.
They suggested the following:
A splendid cheese from the Trembeli creamery in Naousa with garlic and basil!! Delicious and full of rich aromas! It suits good quality red wines of the same region.
A wonderful Cretan Gruyere from the Papagiannaki creamery in Kisamos. Defenitely one of the finest I have ever tasted!! Everyone who loves a wonderfully rich tasting cheese should find them!!!!
And last but in no way least, is the sensational “San Mihali” from the island of Siros. Its name comes from the village in Siros and it is a large cheese with a PDO – Protected Designation of Origin!
Personally, I love to east it on its own with some bread. :-) Gianni told me that if they allowed it to age a little longer it could very well be THE Greek Gruyere!
I hope you liked our little tour of cheeses! We certainly enjoyed them thoroughly!
Please let me know all your favorite cheeses in your comments!