Cheese of the month February 2018: Balaki from Tinos, Cyclades/GR

It’s February and at least in Berlin winter will last another two months, pretty reliably. That’s fine, till now it’s been mild, and eternal summer would be unbearable, and I just returned from a long week in San Francisco with its glorious light. Still, a little more sun won’t do any harm to help the daily winter dose of vitamin D. My wonderful Heinzelcheese network in late summer had a white ball from Tinos landing in my cheese stocks, and with the help of modern wrapping and storing this made its way onto the cheese board only now, in the depth of winter. And there it shone and sparkled, just like the Aegian sun!

I’ve never been to Tinos, an island renowned for its Madonna church, its dove cotes, and its white marble. And I don’t read Greek. Which is why I don’t really know that much about the white ball. It came from the San Lorenzo creamery, where they produce old-style cheeses in modern premises, traditionally made the women in their kitchens. It is called balaki, small ball. It is made from cow’s milk. That’s all clear, Even clearer: its texture is crumbly like an Erzincan Tulum from Anatolia, but not dry.

And: its acidity is bright like the sun, almost like a lemon from the Amalfi coast. My colleague and friend Aglaia Kremezi who lives on Kea, says the animals graze on a lot of wild plants and herbs, and she reminds me that Patience Gray lived on Tinos and wrote her revolutionary book Honey from a Weed partly there.

No, unfortunately I don’t have a supply source around the corner for my sun ball. But I can assure you that a) even the greyest, darkest winter will come to an end, b) that book is absolutely recommended, and c) your very sun delivery will find you if you’re ready for it (sounds a little esoteric,  I know, as I said, a week in San Francisco…).

PS Tinos now is on my travel wish list. Good cheeses are good ambassadors.

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