In Praise of Kasseri CheeseOct 26th, 2013 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Cheese, Dairy, Featured, Pantry, PDO Product, Samothrace, Thessaloniki, Travel
The chatter among Greek food-a-philes of late is that Greeks eat more cheese per capita than any other nationality. Even more than the French! We don’t have cheese courses (at least not in a traditional way) but it appears on our breakfast table, in cheese pies, on salads, part of meze platter, on pasta, in pasta, wrapped in meat, some seafood dishes and even sweets.
Greeks love cheese and apart from the obvious fave (Feta), we adore many cheeses, varying according to taste and region. However, one of the more popular cheeses is Kasseri, It’s a pale yellow, medium hard and made of mostly sheep’s milk cheese (with up to 20% goat’s milk in the mix).
Growing up, I remember batons of Kasseri appearing on the table with breakfast to have with toast or when my Dad celebrated his nameday (St. Nicholas) and an array of cold cuts and cheeses such as Kasseri would be laid out for guests.
Kasseri, a PDO/appellation product is found throughout Greece and it ranges from reactions like, “okay, it’s a nice yellow cheese” to “WOW! The Wow cheese would be a Kasseri I first tried when in Thessaloniki in the Spring of 2011. My good friend Yianni took me to a “bakaliko” called Salumeria, located in Plateia Athonos area of the city.
Salumeria sells specialty food items from all over Greece but it focuses on porducts from northern Greece and specifically Thrace. Enter the mind-blowing Kasseri I had from here: made in the small, quiet island of Samothrace.
I loved this Kasseri so much that I brought back some to Canada (yes you can bring firm cheeses if your declare them to customs). I brought back an array of cheeses and I cherished the wheel of Kasseri from Samothrace. It was actually oval in shape covered in yellowsish wax and ever softly smelled of cheese.
Fast forward two years (the present) and I finally sliced open the cheese. It was covered in some mold but otherwise, the cheese that was protected by the layer of wax was cheese perfume with a slight barnyard wiff to to it. The taste was sharp/piquante, firm and little grainy. This the kind of stuff you savour with a fine bottle of wine, some nuts, dried fruit and perhaps a drizzle of honey or quince jam.
I am going to enjoy every slice of this Kasseri from Samothrace.
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