It's All Greek To Me | January 2022 curdbox

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We are super psyched to be kicking off our 2022 curdbox run with another box collaboration with Food Network Star Chef Michele Ragussis! We loved working with Chef Michele on The New Englandah back in June, so we jumped at the opportunity to explore another theme together. This January, we're using Chef Michele's proud Greek heritage as a launching off point for our It's All Greek To Me box. Because of the cooler temps across the country during the winter, we are able to ship cheeses that might be a little more heat-sensitive than the ones we choose for the boxes that we ship out in the height of summer. As a result, we have a some special Greek cheeses this month that are a little bit outside the normal curdbox wheelhouse, along with the perfect pairings for a savory board. So let's dive in!

January's It's All Greek To Me curdbox

Manouri by Byzantino

Sitting squarely in our milky&mild category, Manouri is one of those delicate cheeses that we can only ship in winter. Like its Italian brethren ricotta, Manouri is a whey cheese, meaning it’s made from the leftover whey after making another cheese (in this case, sheep’s milk feta). And then, for good measure, it’s also blended with cream. What you get is a rich, buttery cheese, with just a backdrop of salt, that will have you asking why feta is the only Greek cheese most people seem to know. Chef Michele was wise to Manouri before this box, though. In this month’s podcast she talks about how she keeps Manouri on hand, and she recently used it in oxtail-stuffed poblano peppers. She likens it to a ricotta salata, and notes that it adds creamy richness while still keeping its shape during cooking. In Greece, it’s also used as dessert cheese and is commonly served drizzled with honey. If you have honey at home, please try this sweet pairing offshoot!  


Our next Greek cheese is Kasseri. This is a pasta filata cheese, i.e. spun paste cheese, like Provolone and Mozzarella, so you would be forgiven for thinking that it could be Italian. Greek Kasseri cheeses are basic sheep cheeses with no more than 20% goat’s milk mixed in. They're usually made in large 20 lb wheels that are brined (in order arrest the development process), and then aged. What you get is semi-firm table cheese with a mild, buttery, slightly briny taste and springy texture, that’s quite versatile for eating or for snacking. This is mildly sheepy cheese, so it's great for anyone that might be sheepish about sheep's cheeses.

Barrel-Aged Feta by Mt. Vikos

After our two lesser-known Greek cheeses, you know we had to include a feta! But as you’ll soon find out, this isn’t just any feta. Unfortunately most people’s experience with feta are those dry, white little salt bombs bopping around your salads, but there is so much more to feta than that, and we hope that this one opens your eyes to what feta can be. For their feta, Mt. Vikos partners with a small-scale family-owned dairy in Central Greece to ensure they are starting with top-notch milk. Then, they age the feta for 4 months in beechwood barrels, a traditional technique that has fallen out of favor and isn’t practiced by many producers anymore. And that’s too bad, because the barrel-aged feta has depth and complexity most people don’t associate with feta. Additionally, while this one is crumbly like a typical feta, it softens up beautifully when it warms up. So if you are going for those classic feta crumbles, then it’s best to crumble it while it’s still cold. It definitely is still a salty cheese, but unlike the cheap stuff in tubs at the grocery store, there's so much more to this feta than just salt! 

Green Olive Spread by Dalmatia

Yup, olives—we had to do it. If you are olive-averse (as we at curdbox used to be as well!) we do hope you’ll give these a try, because this is a good introduction to the great wide world of olives. On the spectrum of olive spreads, this is very much on the mild end. It's got a rich and deep flavor, but it's light, buttery, smooth, so that pairs seamlessly with our cheeses—and beyond! This is a versatile spread, you can add it to cooked pasta for an olive sauce, or in this month's podcast Jenn mentioned mixing it with cream cheese to put on bagels. Experiment with it and have fun—that’s the curdbox way!

Pita Chips by Brewer’s Crackers

Pita in the Greek box—yup, that tracks, too. But before you object, we will be the first to say that Brewer’s Crackers are not Greek, but they are our favorite pita chips out there. They use spent grains from craft breweries to make their crackers, which not only does this cut down on food waste by rerouting these grains that would otherwise go to landfills, it also adds barley depth to their hearty (and delicious) crackers. All in all, they add a delicious wheaty, crunchy, salty backbone to our Greek cheeses.

Fig Salami with Orange Zest and Aleppo Pepper by Hellenic Farms

Our final pairing is the delectable fig salami from Hellenic Farms. This looks and feels a lot like a meat salami, but it’s actually totally vegan! Hellenic Farms was founded by Viviana Karamanis and, as you might have gleaned from that last name, Vivianna has Greek ancestry. In fact, both her parents were Greek immigrants, and growing up she spent her summers in Greece with her grandparents. She founded Hellenic Farms because she was disappointed with the Greek specialty foods that were commonly available, and didn’t feel that they truly represented the glory of what Greece had to offer. Hellenic Farms works directly with artisan producers from all over Greece in order to showcase just a small sliver of the fantastic array of Greek foods. This particular fig salami is mixed with orange zest and and Aleppo, which add a bright, almost savory note to the jamminess of the fig. As Julie noted in this month’s podcast, it’s like a condiment, but in salami form. And we think it was born to pair with our three savory Greek cheeses. 

We hope we have de-mystified the It’s All Greek To Me box! All you really need to understand is that everything goes with everything, so you should try it all! 


Did you take some photos for the 'gram while enjoying this box? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners @mtvikos@eatdivina@brewersfoods, and @hellenicfarmsWe love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

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