We love Greek cheeses although most of them are much less known and hard to find in the US. Feta is undoubtedly the quintessential Greek cheese, but make no mistake the list of fabulous authentic flavors does not stop with creamy Feta.
While Greek Yogurt has dominated the US market during the past few years (FAGE is our favorite because of the quality and type of its live cultures as well as it's creamy texture) Greek cheeses are just now starting to scrape the surface of our market. Here are some of the less known Greek cheeses that deserve a spotlight.
Kasseri: an excellent choice of semi-hard cheese with a unique taste that is something like a marriage between young manchego and asiago, only its texture is buttery and smooth and pairs wonderfully with a variety of wines. Try it with Greek olives and bread for a fine meze, or if you are in the mood for something sweet, Kasseri with a hint of Spanish membrillo is absolutely divine!
Kefalotyri: another authentic bold Greek cheese made with primarily sheep's milk; an excellent table cheese when still three or four months old. With age it becomes drier and is popular for grating over pasta with tomato and eggplant, as its texture resembles parmesan and so does its flavor, although is a bit more gentle.
Manouri: this is a rindless Greek product resembling cream cheese or young ricotta and is found most often in the shape of a log. Its flavor resembles unsalted Feta but its texture is a bit more dense. Manouri is an excellent choice of cheese for individuals with high blood pressure because it has significantly reduced amounts of salt in comparison to Feta and other Greek cheeses. Our favorite use of Manouri in the American Cuisine is grilled cheese sandwiches as it melts easily and adds a nice bite to the overall flavor. Another great choice for grilled cheese sandwiches is Kasseri, which is also used in the traditional Saganaki recipe fried and topped with lemon juice.
Halloumi: considered the signature cheese of Cyprus but it is also popular in the middle eastern countries. Its claim to fame? It does not melt, making it ideal for grilling. Halloumi is quite firm and has a squeaky texture much like mozzarella, in fact it looks much like mozzarella except this cheese is flat as opposed to the round shape we usually find in Italian mozzarella. The popularity of Halloumi has significantly increased during the past year due to the fact that people in the US market are now discovering the diversity of dishes they can create using it.
At the end of the day, it's all about a new culinary adventure and a fun experience. Don't be afraid to experiment with new flavors when it comes to Greek cheese and don't underestimate the amount you will end up eating...