WHAT IS MYZITHRA?
Myzithra is made from a mix of either raw cow, sheep and or goat’s milk and half as much whey. Associated most strongly with Crete, it comes in two types. There is the fresh, less salty fresh version called xinomizythra which looks like a granular cream cheese. It’s fermented to varying degrees creating its’ trademark sour taste. If no cow’s milk is used, then this young sheep – goat blend is called Pichtogalo.
Then there is the aged version of this cheese. This is a drier, saltier version of ricotta. Due to its’ strength, it is often stored in olive oil, infusing the oil with the cheeses flavor as well. Like Italian ricotta, aged myzithra is often grated over pasta dishes.
WHERE IS MYZITHRA MADE?
Mostly Crete, though you can find this cheese throughout Greece. It has been made in Greece for thousands of years and so has had ample time to spread throughout.
DID MYZITHRA TURN A MAN INTO A GOD?
Sadly records are a bit spotty from several thousand years ago. But according to Greek mythology, Aristaios was a man who invented among other things olive oil, the art of “bee hunting” and cheese making. For his numerous accomplishments benefiting mankind, he was transformed into either a god or a dung beetle.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH MYZITHRA?
The younger, cottage cheese-like version can be spread on bread, baked in quiches or used in s savory sauce. When served in a cheese plate, Myzithra is often paired with honey and fruit. In terms of wine, this cheese in either form is usually used as an ingredient or accompaniment to other foods (baked in a pie, mixed into a dessert dish or grated on spaghetti), so pair to whatever the strongest flavor is in that recipe, not to the cheese itself.