food, Greece, tourism

Anthotyro cheese

If you like soft cheese with minimum of salt, anthotyro is what you have to taste in Greece. It is the secondary product made after the main one – kephalotyri. The best anthotyro however is not sold in the supermarkets. The supermarkets only sell the pale shadows of things.

The best anthotyro is made by those Greeks who have cattle (of sheep milk). It is seasonal because it’s usually produced in May and June, so it’s impossible to find a piece of it already at the beginning of July 😦

During summer 2017, we were offered two BIG, generous pieces of anthotyro by Angeliki, a woman holding one fish shop in K. on the Evia island. Its texture, color and taste were completely different from those of the supermarket “ready-made” anthotyros. More rich, containing small bits of fat, yellowish instead of whitish, and having taste!

Angeliki refused to take money, so the next summer we did not dare ask for anthotyro once again as we would like that the person (Angeliki’s sister) producing cheese was rewarded at least a little bit. I would pay for the home anthotyro three times more than for the industrial one… At the same time, I love Greeks for their simplicity and generosity, for their staying so often so far away from commercializing any bit of any thing, far away from capitalism. Since ancient times, the oldy-wordly barter system is still functioning in this country.

Ανθότυρο (Greek version)

Το καλύτερο είναι να μην το πάρεις στα σουπερμάρκετ αλλά να δοκιμάσεις αυτό που φτιάχνουνε οι άνθρωποι που κρατάνε ζώα, το σπιτικό τυρί.

Η Αγγελική που κρατάει ένα ιχθυοπωλείο στην Κ., μας πουλάει ψάρι μας έφερε δυο φορές ένα μεγάλο κομμάτι, περίπου ένα κιλό ήτανε. Αυτό το ανθότυρο το καλύτερο! Είναι λιπαρό, λίγο πιο σκλήρο αλλά και μαλακό ταυτόχρονα, το χρώμα του δεν είναι τόσο άσπρο όπως στο σουπερμάρκετ αλλά υποκίτρινο, και η γεύση του εντελώς διαφορετική δηλαδή έχει γεύση. Σαν να ‘ταν λίπος ή βούτυρο το τυρί αυτό λιώνει επί το μαχαίρι, περιέχει και μικρά κομματάκια του κεφαλοτυριού. Δεν πήρε λεφτά η κυρία αλλά εγώ θα πλήρωσα για αυτήν την délice δυο και τρεις φορές παραπάνω.

Ακόμα και μια κυρία που μένει κοντά μας στην Κ. έχει κρεοπωλείο με τον άνδρα της, μας έφερε ένα κομμτάκι ανθότυρο.
Τότε καταλάβαμε για ακόμι μια φορά, ότι τα σουπερμάρκετ είναι ένα μεγάλο λάθος.
Crete, nature, tourism

First time on Crete

Winter, 2004.

We took two ferry tickets to Rethymnon just before the departure from Piraeus and spent the whole night on the ship, me trying to sleep in my sleeping bag, he not feeling at ease to do the same. The moment of arrival was almost mystic: that was our very first trip not only to Crete, but also to Greece and to… Europe. It was still very dark, and the dark land of the Minoans was slightly approaching, it was hard to distinguish it from the dark sea. There were only the port lights and very intense aromas, a mixture of the ground, rain, sea salt, and sophisticated odors of the Cretan winter flora. We touched the land of Ariadne, inhaling this fantastic air. Slowly, step by step, we reached the center of Rethymnon and found one open fournos, where we took two Greek coffees and two tyropitas.

At dawn, life of this small town started to move slowly. We did not have any hotel or room for rent reservation. We arrived just like this, unprepared. Me, who by this moment could already link a couple of Greek words; he, speaking funny English. We bought a local newspaper with the local accommodation announcements, studied it for a while and started to call the owners. I felt very nervous and very unsure about our success, about my newly born Greek language, but we managed to find an apartment right in the old center of Rethymnon.

The owner’s name was Chrisoula, she told us on the phone that she would pick us up (we were at the telephone box at the old port). If you’ve ever been to Rethymnon, you probably know its traditional architecture, so we rented an apartment in a traditional house for 15 euros per night. However, it was freezing cold inside, so Chrisoula proposed us to occupy also another room, the one with heating, no additional fees. So we slept in the warm one and ate and watched TV in the cold one.

Chrisoula brought us a precious present: home-made tsikoudia. And after our supper, we drank some of this hot drink and went out for a walk, into – already and again – the dark town with its narrow romantic streets… And that was the best moment… we were laughing, we felt warm, happy like two lost, a little drunk souls, anonyms in an unknown town, on the land – huge island – breathing a powerful mythical aura.