A premature summer has officially arrived in London, albeit a. badly timed and b. destined to be short lived. By day sun shines brilliantly and in the evenings I open my windows to welcome wafts of jasmine. I can’t complain seeing as its my favorite season, but why couldn’t this have held off until my wedding just weeks away. This heat is making me lazy and I have so much to do!
With the date fast approaching my sister took us all to Greek restaurant Elysee for an unforgetable hen party, where we smashed plates, threw flowers, drank Ouzo and danced to live music until 4am. It was an absolute fix of the Med right here in Fitzrovia. The next morning (afternoon) as I lay fuzzy headed with bouzoukia still ringing in my ears, my mind wandered back to Crete, a sun-drenched Island I visited with my father last year. I remembered Ergospasio, a taverna we stumbled upon in Elounda, and it’s owner Dimitris who invited us for appetizers and Ouzo, and then became offended when we asked for the bill.
“How dare you try to pay! Just come back some day. You’re always welcome” Looks like we’d made one more Cretan friend by sharing cheese and olives. And there was another taverna up in Rogdia, where we ate an amazing Feta Salad and Dakos (rusks topped with tomatoes and cheese) overlooking the entire city of Heraklion. It’s the simple things in life which are the most memorable, be it soaking up the sun, a meal accompanied by live music or, er, cheese!
Well timed then that Yamas! have sent me four lovely samples from their range, helping to appease my taste for the Med. With them I have created three very cheesy, very Greek dishes; Graviera stuffed fennel seed burgers, baked feta with tomatoes and green pepper , pan fried Saganaki and courgettes stuffed with smoked feta and bulgur wheat . Sound complicated? Well, not at all. These dishes are easy.
Yamas! don’t just offer your bog standard feta which seems to be one of only two Greek cheese already widely available. They aim to make good Greek cheeses more accessible to the UK and beyond, by offering comprehensive, no fuss and fairly priced products. Great website too! Managing director Neil is so passionate about the brand that he constantly travels to Greece and Cyprus ensuring top quality and authentic products. The range although young, is already widely available, and for Greece’s second favorite cheese Graviera it is the first time it has reached such an audience. The products themselves are of utmost quality: the feta is creamy and not overly aged, the smoked cheese has a subtle smokiness, the Graviera nutty and sweet and halloumi perfect for grilling and not overly salty. All products are good enough for the cheese board yet versatile enough to use in cooking.
Host of My Greek Kitchen, chef Toni Buxton, was also excited by the Yamas! range saying ” It’s wonderful that these cheeses will finally be available in the UK!”
Statistically Greece eats more cheese per person than any other nation! If we take Sophia Loren’s famous saying “All you see I owe to Spaghetti!” and apply in Greek terms, “All you see I owe to cheese”, its no wonder Tonia looks the way she does. I think I’ll be exploring the world of Greek cheeses in more depth.
Now raise your glasses and toast to the summer – Yamas!