By Ingka Athanasiadou
The 100% sheep’s milk named Talagani Cheese comes from Messinia, in the Peloponnese of Southern Greece. Produced by farmer Costas Apostolou and his wife Eleni Apostolou on his family-owned farm, it is made by hand using traditional methods, which include curing in brine. Talagani Cheese was also the winner of World Cheese Awards in 2008.
Costas Apostolou is of Cypriot Origin, and left Greece in 1974 in order to migrate to London. His father was working in the tourism sector there and Costas, after having graduated from university, decided to follow his father’s path in tourism sector.
In the late 1980s the Apostolou family returned to Cyprus facing difficulties, so the next decision was to migrate to Messinia in Greece. “In the beginning we followed the tradition in Messinia by planting olive oil trees. Later, we decided to create our own sheep farm by bringing 800 sheep from France to Greece, that were housed on an exceptional level and fed only with the very best natural feeds”, Apostolou said.
Every day Eleni Apostolou used to make talagani cheese for her family and relatives, but very soon the talagani cheese was made to order.
Costas Apostolou stated: “Talagani Cheese is often compared to Cypriot halloumi, but talagani has a superior, softer texture and a richer, creamier flavour which is offset by a delicate saltiness and subtle mint undertones”.
The flavour can be further enhanced by marinating it in olive oil and herbs before cooking. Like halloumi it is best grilled or fried and eaten straight away, and when grilled it makes a welcome addition to fresh, green salads and roasted vegetables.
In 2008, Talagani Cheese became famous among supermarkets in Messinia, later in Athens, and finally it managed to enter the markets of Poland, Sweden, USA and Singapore. In Sweden, Talagani cheese became famous through its similarity to halloumi cheese, while in Singapore a man from Greece who owns a restaurant there promoted Talagani Cheese in the region.
“Although Talagani Cheese triumphs in global markets, the domestic market is the one that promoted it because of the generosity that Greeks demonstrate”, Apostolou concluded.
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