In May, the Heinzelcheese network resulted in something very special: handcrafted cheeses from the Cyclades. Complete withe local experts! And, of course, Greek wines, from one of the super stars, Stellios Boutaris of Kir-Yianni. Who, unfortunately, could not be present, but the wonderful Aglaia Kremezi and her husband Costas Moraitis came and told us about the island of Kea, the gorgeous cooking school they run there during the summer, and the stories of the cheeses they brought for us. I went to stay with them for a beautiful week two years ago and can’t recommend it too highly. An open-air kitchen, produce from their own garden, and last but not least, because Kea Artisanal is as much about the food culture as it is about cooking, those gorgeous cheeses…
Aglaia is a very successful cookbook author and also brought along her lastest oeuvre, Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts. Her lovely blog offers a taste of what this is all about. She treated us to some delicious meze, using the Grinbox selection of deliciousness.
„Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian“, Aglaia writes in her book, „for as long as I can remember I have predominantly cooked and eaten vegetables and greens. Like Molière’s bourgeois gentilhomme, who exclaims, “I have been speaking prose without knowing it for more than forty years,” I recently realized that I have been mostly vegetarian, without knowing it, all my life!“
But back to the Heinzelcheesetalk. We began our journey with a Kaseri from the north of Greece, north of Thessaloniki, where the Kir Yianni wines come from. Like most Greek cheeses it is made from sheeps’ milk with some goats’ milk added, in this case in the pasta filata style and pressed into moulds, like the Sicilian Ragusano. What I learnt was the its name references sephardic Jews, as it derives from the word kosher.
Graviera (as in Turkey Gruyère brought along with Swiss immigrants/refugees), young and mature, from Crete (I know, not part of the Cyclades either).
Kefalotyri Niotiko from Ios.
San Michalis (made from cows’ milk) from Syros.
Anthotyro, made with a certain percentage of whey, or mad ein a way to curdle both the casein and the whey protein of the milk, in a young version from Kea and a markedly more mature and harder one from Crete (see above).
As an exception in the Greek cheese landscape a pure goats’ cheese, Gidotyri from Metsovo, with some pepper corns added.
And finally Manoura from Sifnos, also with a certain percentage of whey and preserved in red wine lees.
A whole world of cheese, even if this could only be a small part of it…
In the glasses, all from Kir Yianni, except for the sweet wine:
Fruity Paranga Sparkling from Chardonnay, Xinomavro and Moscato, 2014 Samaropetra Vineyard from Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Tesseris Limnes from Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer (which you and we liked particularly well with the Graviera), then in red 2011 Xinomavro with a certain percentage of Merlot added and the (surprisingly more approachable) 2011 Ramnista from 100% Xinomavro (literally the „black, sour“ grape from the north). To conclude (and deliciously so) 2010 Moscato from Limnos as Passito, made from dried grapes, from Hatsigheorghiou.
After that, see above, that is Aglaia’s gorgeous meze… Thanks to everybody involved, cooking, explaining, tasting, listening, enjoying. Cheesio!
HeinzelCheeseTalks take place regularly, usually on a Friday at 6pm at Markthalle Neun in Berlin-Kreuzberg. I bring some interesting cheese, open a few bottles of wine, and we sit around the large table opposite the Suff wine stall, tasting, drinking, talking, discussing (mostly in German – but we usually manage to cater to English speakers too). Invites are sent out about ten days before we meet, to a mailing list you can join here. Reservations need to be confirmed and are strictly by first come first serve – so be quick! And please do let me know if you can’t make it after all – there is always a waiting list. A donation of twelve euros per person (or one or two euros more if you really had a lot of fun…) is much appreciated. Cheesio!