ATHENS – Ask anyone what cheese comes to mind when you mention Greece and it almost certainly will be feta, loved internationally too, but not good enough to be included on a list of Europe’s tastiest by CNN Travel.
The named included Italy’s Puzzone di Moena – which means “big stinker” – and the French Vieux-Boulogne, which smells even worse, and is unpasteurized and unpressed, so you may want to have a bottle of wine in the other for a fast drink.
Next to those, feta is like ice cream, but there was no explanation why Greece’s beloved product, which has a European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) as unique to the country, was left off.
The list included Cyprus’ Halloumi, which is almost unmeltable and a grilled joy when it turns brown, sprinkled with olive oil, lemon and oregano, and the famous rubbery bite, but which CNN said people would mostly associate with Greece.
And then there was Metsovone which comes from the northern Greek mountain town of Metsovo, halfway between Ioannina and Kalambaka’s Meteora. That cheese is made from cow’s milk either on its own or mixed with a little sheep or goat, is semi-hard and naturally smoked and can be grilled too.
The feta slight was picked by up the newspaper Kathimerini which said that Greek favorite “will most certainly star the star among the Greek cheeses,” but that CNN put the light on Metsovone.
The story said the cheese “adds smoky deep flavor to creamy sauces, is delicious fried, and makes a fine nibble with white wine or a good beer.” Look for sales to pick up, even in Greece.
Metsovone also has a PDO label and the story said it was inspired by Italy’s Provolone and was invented as part of an effort to revive the mountainous region by creating jobs after WWII.
It’s unlikely to bump feta as Greece’s best-known cheese though. Feta’s so popular that it has gone viral in TikTok posts and in 2019 was the staple of a baked feta pasta dish that took the Internet by storm.
That, however, wasn’t from a Greek chef or cook but a Finnish food blogger, Jenni Hayrinen who took credit for creating it although variations of that have been cooked in Greece forever.