Monday, August 18, 2008

Feta

The Greeks have a name for it—Feta. Their neighbors call it Greek cheese. Feta is to cheese what Hymettus is to honey. The two together make ambrosial manna. Feta is soft and as blinding white as a plate of fresh Ricotta smothered with sour cream. The whiteness is preserved by shipping the cheese all the way from Greece in kegs sloshing full of milk, the milk being renewed from time to time. Having been cured in brine, this great sheep-milk curd is slightly salty and somewhat sharp, but superbly spicy.

When first we tasted it fresh from the keg with salty milk dripping through our fingers, we gave it full marks. This was at the Staikos Brothers Greek-import store on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. We then compared Feta with thin wisps of its grown-up brother, Casere. This gray and greasy, hard and brittle palate-tickler of sheep's milk made us bleat for more Feta.

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