Recently, we’ve been trying to familiarise ourselves with and sample a few different Turkish cheeses. In the past, we’ve been content with the white cheeses (beyaz peynir) and local Fethiye tulum (cheese that’s stored in goat’s skin) so we decided it was time for a bit of variety in our cheese diet.
If we buy cheese from Çalış or Fethiye market, then it’s usually produced here in Fethiye. However, there are other regions of Turkey that are well known for their particular types of cheese and it’s these that we want to work our way through.
Unless we go on a grand culinary, cheesy tour of Turkey, we need to rely on the local supermarket to stock these previously un-tasted varieties.
And so, last week, we wandered around the deli counter of our supermarket and chose a cheese at random – one that looked different in texture to any type of tulum or white cheese (think feta).
We picked up a firm, triangular wedge of yellow cheese with a skin running along its thicker edge and took it home to sample and research. Kars Gravyer Peynir.
Researching Turkish cheese online is no easy task. I found a few bits of information dotted about different sites but it appears there isn’t a wealth of information about a dairy product the Turks are so proud of. We did manage to find out that Kars Gravyer Cheese is one of Turkey’s famous cheeses. Good start!
It’s apparently made from high fat cow’s milk and takes 10 months to produce. You can tell from the strong flavour and texture that it’s been produced over a longer period of time.
Kars Gravyer Peynir is similar in flavour to a matured English Cheddar. It’s supposed to have regular, cherry-shaped holes of around 1 to 2 centimetres in diameter and anything less than this makes it an inferior version.
Well, ours certainly had holes in it but I can’t say they were regular or anywhere near 1 to 2 centimetres. It looks like we’ll have to head up to the Northeast of Turkey to Kars to sample the real thing.
As you can see from the photos, we sampled our Kars Gravyer Peynir with pickled beetroot, chillies and meaty green olives (not in the photo). A perfect lunch on a sunny afternoon in Fethiye. Oh, and the cheese tasted far from inferior.