CYA students set out to discover the secrets of traditional Greek cheesemaking
Last week a group of cheese-loving CYA students and our Director of Student Affairs, Nadia Meliniotis, visited one of Greece’s most famous creameries: the Kostarelos Cheese & Dairy Family Business.
Established in 1937, the Kostarelos family firm has been producing fine cheese and dairy products in their own facilities for three generations. Kyriakos Kostarelos met us at their store and production plant in Markopoulo, a quiet suburb in East Attica. This is where his grandfather had a tavern in the 1930s, offering guests cheese and yogurt made out of milk from his farm. Since then, the business has grown and today they have 7 retail stores in Attica while also exporting products to selected delis in Paris and London.
After meeting Kyriakos, we put on our caps and uniforms and stepped inside the production facilities. Feta is the star of Greek cheeses and we got to explore how it is produced using traditional methods.
We saw where the cheese curdles and even the oak barrels where it matures for up to 12 months! Kyriakos’ father, Christos Kostarelos, was on hand to demonstrate the traditional technique of straining yogurt using cotton bags! This is the centuries-old technique that creates the unmistakable taste of Greek yogurt.
Next, students made their way to the cheese tasting area, where they were presented with a mouthwatering platter of Greece’s finest cheese! Creamy anthotyro, piquant graviera, wine-soaked krasotyri, nutty melipasto and, of course, two types of feta cheese: the pungent hard version and the soft buttery one. The tasting concluded in the sweetest possible way, enjoying the most beloved Greek dessert: strained yogurt with sour cherry topping!
CYAers thoroughly enjoyed their visit. Studying in Greece also means immersing yourself in the Greek way of life; gastronomy is a major part of this. It was very interesting to not only taste truly exceptional cheeses but also meet the people behind them and witness at first hand their passion for the craft of cheesemaking, quality and tradition!