This is a blog post to share with you some of the magic which exists in Greek cheese. Most of us often see cheese as an interesting ingredient to cook with or have as part of our cheese platter. And it is of course that. But so much more.

Next time you get a piece of cheese, before you eat it or start grading it, stop. Look at it. Smell it. Cut a small piece and put it in your mouth. When you taste cheese, an entire world opens up. The cheese that you taste is more than its taste and aroma. It’s more than an ingredient to be used in salads or soufflés. It carries within it all the characteristics of the place where it is coming from. Of the animals whose milk created it. Of the time of the year when it was made. Of the cheesemaker whose art turned the milk into cheese. Of the culture of that place in the world where it comes from. Each cheese carries a story. If you pay close attention, you can experience it.

Today we will share with you the story of our graviera cheese from Naxos.

The cheesemaker Emmanuel Koufopoulos lives on the island of Naxos. His cheese room operates from 1990 in the area of Saint Isidoros Galanadou at the intersection of Melana and Potamia. You know, if you are ever around. His graviera cheese has been awarded protection under the European Union’s Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) status. What does this mean? It means that only the cheese produced there can have that name.

Koufopoulos puts together family heritage and modern technology and creates his cheese using local cow’s, sheep’s and goats’ milk. Almost daily, he collects milk from his own cows, and from animals living in the mountains of Naxos. Kinda gives you a glimpse of how cheesemaking was done in the past. He also uses vegetable rennet (yes, this cheese is vegetarian!). Of course, there are no preservatives or additives.

He usually talks about his love for cheese, which, yes, comes through once you taste it. Aged for minimum one year, this cheese has a semi-hard texture and a rich aroma, a creamy and buttery mouthfeel, and a mellow peppery taste with nutty undertones.

There are various ways to enjoy this cheese. You can include it in a cheese platter. You can enjoy it in a sandwich, smothered with some chutney or pickled onions. You can use it in cooking. Grade and sprinkle over pasta. Make soufflés, quiches or pies. Cut in cubes and include it in salads. Melt in a cast iron skillet and serve with pickled cucumbers.

Yes, there are many ways to enjoy this cheese. But if you ask me, the best way to savour it is the simplest one. With some good crusty sourdough bread. You can then experience properly this graviera from the island of Naxos.


Coming in to our shop at Borough Market, you might have noticed a snail. It is called “Snail of approval” and it is the seal of Slow Food approval. The award criteria are the following: quality (food must taste good and be good for us), authenticity (food produced is true to its source), sustainability (paying attention to the consequences of how food is produced and distributed).

We are honoured to have earned such an outstanding seal of approval from a movement like Slow Food that celebrates good, clean and fair food. We started off about 6 years ago inspired by our great love for Greek products, organic farming and fuelled by our producers’ passion and commitment. Our star ingredients are unique, limited number products, harvested with traditional methods and kind to nature. These handmade goods are the labour of love, and not only do they represent the uniqueness of the craftsman but also the uniqueness of the Greek terroir.

For example, our family-owned independent smallholding has strong traditional farming roots and dedicated organic values. We source among others, a unique cultivated type of pistachios from Aegina, as well as Corinth raisins; both been awarded a Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O) product status.

You might be familiar with Slow Food, a grassroots international movement (1) which manifests that one can access a kind of cultural authenticity via local food. The movement encourages local food produced by “centuries-old traditions” in an attempt to counter the invasion of fast food and mass produced food. It also seeks to replace mass produced, artificial and sometimes tasteless fast food by whole-some foods produced in known placed by identifiable people.

Borough Market is filled with traders whose approach to producing or sourcing has gained them official accreditation from Slow Food UK. Slow Food philosophy closely mirrors that of Borough Market, and in recent years the ties between these two organisations have become increasingly close. Let’s not disregard the number of local –as well as international- foodstuff that would be at risk of survival if it weren’t for those hard- working to keep them relevant.

During October we celebrated quality, sustainability and ethical standards during Slow Food Week with fellow Borough Market traders. Slow Food Awards are a wonderful reward for either producing or sourcing products in a sustainable, small-scale, environmentally sound way. Those products not only do they respect culinary traditions but they also taste excellent. We were really proud to be runner up for the Best Individual Product in Slow Food Awards with our unpasteurised olives.

Join us at Borough Market and find out more about our products!

(1)  An excellent reference for further reading: Meneley, Anne. “Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Slow Food.” Anthropologica , vol. 46, no. 2, 2004, pp. 165–176. www.jstor.org/stable/25606192.

 

 


Two weeks ago (8-9/10/16) we attended the London Greek Wine Festival, raising our glass to celebrate this brilliant event. Although Greece has been home to winemaking for over 6000 years and with more than 300 indigenous grape varieties; Greek wines have been underrated for decades.

However, there has been a shift in recent years and, it seems that finally, it’s their time to shine globally. This post will introduce you to four fascinating and unique indigenous varieties: Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro and will inspire you to pair this ancient elixir with food.

Assyrtiko is a white grape variety, produced mainly in Santorini (PDO Santorini). It has a fresh, citrussy, mineral driven character with sea salt finish. It produces a dry white wine, but its multipurpose grapes can even extend to dessert wines. This variety is the ideal complement to haute cuisine, fish, seafood and, surprisingly, even meat dishes. We love it with grilled octopus, sardines as well as the classic Santorini-style fava beans.

Did you know? Assyrtiko is a rare case of white with tannins.

Moschofilero is a white grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Mantinia). It is an aromatic variety with surprising freshness, crisp acidity and wild floral intensity. It does not only make a still table wine but delicious rosé, sparkling and dessert wines. This exotic grape produces the perfect aperitif or complement to a wide variety of elegant dishes, Middle and Far East cuisine, sushi and seafood. We love it with all “quintessential Greek” grilled seafood such as red mullet.

Agiorgitiko – Nemea is a red grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Nemea). It has a deep, dark ruby colour, mid acidity and soft tannins. The range of wine styles include rich, complex, age worthy reds for the cellar; as well as light, easy drinking wines with the fresh aromas of red fruits. These captivating wines are exceptionally food friendly and you can even pair them with fish. We love it with a classic beef steak or with a slow roasted tomato-sauce stew (kokkinisto). Agiorgitiko grapes are also used to produce our wonderful Petimezi (Grape molasses)

Did you know? According to an ancient legend, the Nemea-Agiorgitiko grapes got their rich, dark colour and their soft and mysterious flavour from the blood of the lion that Hercules slew.

Xinomavro (Ksinomavro) is a red grape variety, produced in the Northern Greece (PDO Naoussa and PDO Amynteo). This intriguing variety can be difficult to cultivate. It has a deep red colour, a complex aromatic character including dried tomatoes and spices, high acidity and strong tannins. When the variety is expressed in wines, it is used in indigenous wine blends, as well as in rosés, including brilliant rustic ones and of course, it is exceptional when aged. This variety makes a great food pairing wine, ideal for food with intense and rich flavours. We love it with Northern Greece specialities like rabbit or game stew or simply with some smoked cheese.