Thousands of years ago, before the dawn of recorded history, ancient shepherds would cure and sew shut the stomachs of some of their animals when they dressed and prepared their meat. They found that when they then tried to use them to store milk, the milk would sometimes curdle from the presence of the rennet stomach enzymes. And when they separated these curds from the liquid whey, they made the world’s first cheeses.
Ancient cheesemakers soon discovered that different types of milk, different levels of salt and liquid in the curds, as well as different forms of bacteria and molds can all help flavor cheeses as they age, giving birth to an astonishing variety of delicious cheeses. The Mediterranean Bakery is proud to carry a wide range of these cheeses from throughout the region, including:
Akawi – Akawi is a slightly salty smooth white cheese, usually made from cow’s milk, and typically eaten by itself or paired with fruit. It’s named after the city of Akka or Acre, where it originated.
Asiago (Italian & Stella) – Asiago is a slightly nutty cow’s milk cheese originally produced in Northeastern Italy. It’s texture and taste vary depending on how long it’s been aged. It can be sliced for sandwiches, or grated on top of soups, salads and pasta dishes.
Bleu Cheese (Crumble, Danish, Gorgonzola, Roquefort) – Love it or hate it, bleu cheese is made using Penicillium mold and B. linens bacteria, which gives the cheese its characteristic blue veins and pungent taste and smell. It can be eaten alone or crumbled on top of a wide range of other foods to add a sharp and creamy depth-of-flavor.
Cheddar (Black Diamond, Canadian, Irish Tipperary, Mild, Sharp, and Smoked) – One of the most popular cheese in the world, cheddar is a somewhat hard, aged English cheese that varies in sharpness depending on the level of bitter peptides that form in it during the aging process. It can be eaten by itself, paired with fruit, sliced or melted on sandwiches, or melted in soups or sauces for a wide variety of dishes: from mac & cheese to broccoli to nachos.
Cheese Curds – Cheese curds are moist unaged pieces of curdled milk separated from the liquid whey early in the cheese-making process. They have a light flavor and can be eaten by themselves as a snack, or mixed with French fries and gravy to make poutine.
Edam (Mild & Smoked) – Edam is a mild, semi-firm cheese originating from the Netherlands. It ages and travels well, which contributed to its popularity in the centuries prior to refrigeration. It pairs well with fruit and wine, and is often eaten on crackers or with bread.
Feta (Bulgarian, Cypriot, Domestic, French Double-Cream, Greek, Greek Barrel, Greek Dodoni, Greek Kolios, Hungarian Double-Cream, and Turkish) – The classic Mediterranean cheese, feta is a soft and tangy white cheese originally from in Greece. It’s usually made with sheep’s milk curds that have been aged in brine, which gives it its salty flavor. It can be spread on sandwiches or wrapped in filo dough, crumbled on salads, or stuffed in omelettes. It pairs well with olives, sweet vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and aromatic herbs, such as marjoram, mint and oregano.
Fontina (Italian & Fontal) – Fontina is a mild to medium-sharp, semi-firm and nutty cheese, made from cow’s milk, and first produced in the Italian Alps. It pairs well with roasted meats and earthy foods, such as chestnuts and mushrooms.
Fontinella – Fontinella is a sweet and creamy, semi-firm American cheese. It goes well in grilled sandwiches, or melted in sauces.
Goat Cheese (Canadian, Domestic, Greek) – Goat cheese or chevre is a tart white cheese made from goat’s milk. Although harder, aged varieties are available, we carry the softer, fresher varieties. Goat cheese can be spread on bread or crackers, melted in omelettes, or baked to create a thick silky texture.
Goat Feta (Canadian) – A crumbly, tart white cheese made from goat’s milk and aged in brine.
Gorgonzola (Blue Crumble, Domestic, Italian) – A salty variety of bleu cheese, with heavy Penicillium veins, originally produced in Gorgonzola, Italy.
Gouda (Aged, Extra Aged, Reduced Fat, Smoked) – Gouda is one of the most popular cheese in the world. It has been made for almost a thousand years, and takes its name from the city of Gouda in South Holland, which once held monopoly rights to sell the cheese in its farmers’ market. Freshly made, Gouda is a soft, mild cheese with a slightly nutty flavor. As it ages, it develops a sweet caramel flavor. It’s considered a snacking cheese, eaten alongside beer or wine, or in bread with butter or jam.
Graviera (Kefalograviera) – Graviera is a Greek cheese that can be made from either sheep or cow’s milk. It has sweet undertones that sharpen as it ages, and notes of roasted caramel. It can be eaten sliced on sandwiches or as a snack, grated for salads, or baked in casseroles.
Gruyère de Comté (French & Swiss) – One of the most famous French cheeses, Gruyère de Comté is a mild, slightly nutty and slightly sweet cheese, with a firm but flexible texture, made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It can be eaten by itself, sliced for sandwiches, or melted on top of a wide variety of foods, from eggs to vegetables to mac & cheese.
Halloumi (Cyprus) – The frying cheese! Halloumi is one of the most famous exports from the island of Cyprus. It’s a salty, firm cheese made from a mixture of different milks (goat and sheep, and sometimes cow’s milk), and aged in its own whey. Because of its high melting point, it can be fried without melting, and is delicious raw or fried, by itself, or alongside fruit, vegetables, or meats.
Kasseri or Kashkaval Cheese (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Turkey) – Kasseri is a medium-to-hard yellow cheese of Greek origin that’s usually made from a combination of sheep and goat’s milk. It has a smooth and rich depth-of-flavor that starts out mild and gets sharper as the cheese ages. Because the name “Kasseri” is protected, when it’s produced outside of Greece it’s simply known as Kashkaval (“yellow cheese”). It’s extremely versatile, and can be eaten by itself alongside fruit or wine, sliced on sandwiches, baked in or on top of casseroles, or melted in sauces.
Kefalotyri (Greece) – Kefalotiri is a salty, white cheese from Greece, made from either sheep or goat’s milk, with a very hard texture, and a flavor that deepens as it ages. It can be eaten by itself, baked in savory pastries, grated on top of pasta or vegetables, or fried to make saganaki.
Manchego (Spain) – The Cheese from La Mancha! Manchego is a firm but flexible ivory-colored cheese made from sheep’s milk, with a buttery texture and a rich creamy flavor, with slightly sharp undertones.
Manouri (Greece) – The Greek cream cheese! Manouri is a semi-soft white cheese made from a mixture of sheep or goat’s milk and whey. It has a light, slightly nutty flavor, and can be eaten by itself, in salads, or in either sweet or savory pastries.
Mozzarella (Domestic, Fresh, Smoked) – Originating in Southern Italy, Mozzarella has become one of the most popular cheeses in the world. It’s made using the pasta filata method, by warming and stretching the curds. Because of its high moisture content, its usually eaten just after its been made, alongside fresh herbs and vegetables, or dried slightly, then shredded and baked on top of vegetables, pastas, breads, or pizzas.
Myzithra (Greece) – Mizithra is a Greek whey cheese originating from the island of Crete. When eaten fresh, it has a creamy flavor similar to ricotta cheese. Aged, myzithra cheese becomes drier and denser, with salty-sharp undertones, and is often served grated and served on top of vegetables or pastas, similar to parmesan.
Nabulsi (Domestic, Lebanon, Turkey) – Originally from the city of Nablus in Palestine, nabulsi is a salty, white, semi-firm cheese that is aged in brine. It’s sometimes flavored with mastic or mahlab, and can be eaten by itself or fried in oil.
Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italy) – The “King of Cheese,” Parmigiano-Reggiano is named for the region in Italy where it has been produced for hundreds of years. Only cheese produced in this region that follows its strict complex recipe can be labeled “Parmigiano-Reggiano.” It’s made from part-skim, unpasteurized, and grass-fed cow’s milk, and aged for one year. It has a complex sharp & savory flavor, and can be eaten on its own, melted in sauces or risottos, or grated over salads or pasta dishes.
Parmesan (Argentina, Domestic, Italian, and Italian Grana Padano) – “Parmesan” refers to a family of cheeses made all over the world, inspired by and made by similar processes as Parmigiano-Reggiano. These cheeses are often sold pre-grated, to be melted in sauces, soups, or risottos, or grated over salads or pasta. Grana Padano is also made by a similar process to Parmigiano-Reggiano in a neighboring region of Italy. It has a somewhat softer flavor and texture that works better in sauces than parmesan, but less well as a grated cheese on pasta dishes.
Pecorino Romano (Italy, Black/Red Pepper) – Pecorino Romano dates back to the Roman Empire, where it was a staple food. It’s a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk. Deeply flavorful, it can be eaten alongside fresh vegetables, or grated on top of salads or pasta dishes.
Port Salut (France) – Although it shares the strong smell associated with other aged cheese, Port Salut is a mild-tasting, semi-soft French cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It works well on grilled sandwiches, or melted in sauces.
Provolone (Italian) – Provolone is a semi-firm, aged, stretched-curd Italian cheese, usually made from cow’s milk. Its taste varies from sweet to sharp, depending on the type of enzymes used and how long the cheese is aged. It melts well, and can be used on grilled sandwiches, in pasta dishes or casseroles, and as a pizza cheese.
Ricotta / Ricotta Salata (Soft, Semi-Hard, Hard) – Ricotta is a creamy Italian whey cheese that dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. It’s made by fermenting the whey and then heating it, which causes the whey proteins to lose their structure. It’s then strained through cheesecloth and used as a dessert cheese, as a savory filling in pasta dishes, or as a mayonnaise substitute. Ricotta salata is further pressed, salted, dried, and then aged to become firm for grating.
Roquefort (France) – A variety of bleu cheese with distinctive blue veins that is made from sheep’s milk, and aged in the Combalou caves of the Roquefort-sur-Soulzon region in France.
Rumi (Egypt) – The Egyptian parmesan! Rumi is a semi-hard to hard yellow cheese with a mild nutty to sharp pungent flavor, depending on how long it has been aged. It can be eaten by itself or grated on top of pasta or other dishes.
Shankleesh (Domestic, Lebanon) – Shanklish is a Levantine cheese made from strained sheep or cow’s yogurt, formed into small balls, and either pickled in olive oil or dried. It’s often covered in fresh herbs, such as zaatar (Arabic thyme), or Aleppo pepper, and it’s usually eaten with eggs or alongside fresh vegetables.
String Cheese (Armenian chechil, Canadian, Domestic, Turkish çeçil) – String cheese is a mild, slightly salty cheese, with a firm but flexible texture, that originates in the Eastern Mediterranean. The “strings” are made by steaming the curds and then stretching or pulling them so the proteins in the cheese all line up together. It’s often eaten by itself as a snack cheese, but also works well alongside fresh vegetables.
Swedish Farmer Cheese — Swedish Farmer Cheese or Hushållsost is a mild, semi-firm cheese that can be sliced and eaten alongside fruit or meats, or melted on sandwiches or in sauces.
Swiss Cheese (Domestic, Emmental/Swiss) – “Swiss Cheese” is the general name used for a variety of yellow, medium-to-hard cheeses, pockmarked with holes, that are inspired by Emmentaler cheese, which originated around Emmental in central Switzerland. Traditional Emmentaler cheese is made with unpasteurized cow’s milk and three different types of bacteria (S. thermophilus, L. helveticus, & P. Freudenreichii). Swiss cheese has a smooth, slightly sweet, slightly nutty flavor. It can be eaten by itself, sliced on sandwiches, or melted in sauces or fondues.
Syrian Byblos Chilal Cheese (Domestic, Lebanon) – Chilal is a Syrian pulled-curd cheese similar to Akawi cheese and String cheese.
Syrian or “Arab” Cheese (Domestic, Lebanon) – Syrian cheese, also known as Jibneh Arabieh or “Arab Cheese,” is a semi-firm but flexible unaged white cheese with a mild creamy flavor, similar to Queso Blanco. It is popular throughout the Middle East, and is typically served and eaten as a table cheese, alongside meals or as a snack.
Toscanello (Italy, Pecorino Toscano) – Toscanello is a classic, semi-hard, sheep’s milk cheese produced in Tuscany. It has a rich salty flavor that gets sharper and somewhat spicy as it ages. It’s usually eaten as a table cheese, alongside meals, or shaved on top of pasta and vegetable dishes.
Vlahotyri (Greece) – Vlahotiri, or “farmer’s cheese,” is a firm sheep’s milk cheese from Greece with a rich, sharp flavor. It can be served as a table cheese, baked in savory pastries or casseroles, or fried in olive oil to make saganaki.