While Greece may be most famous for its most symbolic cheese, feta, there are many other very tasty Greek cheeses that rival the iconic dairy product.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that CNN Travel included a lesser-known Greek cheese, Metsovone, among its list of the tastiest European cheeses.
Metsovone hails from the village of Metsovo which is located in the northern Greek region of Epirus.
The mountainous town is famous across Greece for the dairy and meat products produced from the cows and sheep raised there, and Metsovone is one of the village’s most lauded exports.
Greek cheese Metsovone has a rich, smoky flavor
Metsovone is one of a few Greek cheeses that were awarded the coveted “PDO” or “Product of Designated Origin” status from the European Union in 1996, which means cheese labeled “Metsovone” can only be produced in Greece.
Currently, the smoked “pasta filata” cheese, or cheese which has been produced by stretching or kneading fresh curds in hot water, giving it a fibrous texture, is mainly produced in the Tositsa Cheese Factory in Metsovo.
This is the very same Tositsa family that first produced the iconic cheese, which is modeled after the Italian provolone. The family, which is powerful and well known in the region, sent a number of young villagers to Italy to learn the trade of cheese making.
Those who returned from the neighboring country used local products, mixed with traditional Italian techniques, to create the delicious smoked cheese.
While there are a number of variations on the semi-hard Greek cheese, it is most commonly made from a mixture of cow’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes milk from a goat.
Its semi-hard texture and smoky flavor make it perfect as a table cheese, eaten on its own, and grilled as an appetizer. Many visitors to the village go specifically to try its local culinary delights such as the Metsovone.
Halloumi also on the list
In addition to Metsovone cheese, another Greek cheese was included on the recent list of Europe’s tastiest cheeses.
Halloumi, the iconic product from the island of Cyprus, also ranked among the most delicious cheeses of Europe.
Halloumi originated in Cyprus during the Medieval Byzantine period; the tasty Cypriot cheese later spread to its Levantine neighbors, who now have cheeses similar to halloumi in their own cuisines.
The famously squeaky cheese is made by heating cheese curds from the sheep’s and goat’s milk mixture, and then placing them in brine. Traditionally, mint is used in the production of the cheese, adding a hint of minty flavor to halloumi.
In the West, a softer, milder version of halloumi is preferred. This type of halloumi has not been aged in brine, making it less tangy. In Cyprus, many prefer the aged version, which is more tough and has a stronger flavor.
Halloumi has a very high melting point, owing to its method of production. This means that halloumi can be grilled or fried easily — simply delicious!