Halloumi from Cyprus | ūü¶ÜThe Bow Tie Duck Manila
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Halloumi PDO from Cyprus

A Mediterranean delicacy

A firm, slight¬≠ly springy Mediter¬≠ranean cheese, Hal¬≠lou¬≠mi hails from the island of Cyprus and is tra¬≠di¬≠tion¬≠al¬≠ly made with goat or sheep milk, although mod¬≠ern iter¬≠a¬≠tions make use of cow‚Äôs milk, too. 

TAST­ING NOTES FROM THE CURATOR

Unique¬≠ly pre¬≠pared with¬≠out the use of any acid-pro¬≠duc¬≠ing bac¬≠te¬≠ria, Hal¬≠lou¬≠mi has a firm, lay¬≠ered tex¬≠ture sim¬≠i¬≠lar to moz¬≠zarel¬≠la and feta, but with a strong salty fla¬≠vor from the brine. It has no rind, and is a very bright white col¬≠or, with a strong aroma. 

Eat¬≠en on its own, it has a tangy, salty taste. But Hal¬≠lou¬≠mi is a pop¬≠u¬≠lar cheese to cook, and doing so removes the salti¬≠ness and gives it a bril¬≠liant creamy tex¬≠ture. It is usu¬≠al¬≠ly pack¬≠aged gar¬≠nished with mint, a throw¬≠back to tra¬≠di¬≠tion, when the cheese would be wrapped in mint leaves to make it pos¬≠si¬≠ble to store it for long peri¬≠ods with the island‚Äôs hot climate.

PAIR­INGS AND PREPARATION

On its own, this Mediter¬≠ranean cheese is won¬≠der¬≠ful. But cooked, it shines its bright¬≠est. Since it has a high melt¬≠ing point, it is usu¬≠al¬≠ly grilled (like for sagana¬≠ki) or fried. You can cut it length¬≠wise instead, wrap it in bacon, and fry it‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČan easy fin¬≠ger food to serve guests for appetizers!

One pop¬≠u¬≠lar sum¬≠mer dish is grilled Hal¬≠lou¬≠mi with slices or chunks of water¬≠mel¬≠on, whether as a sal¬≠ad or a light kebab. It is also an essen¬≠tial part of a Cyprus meze, where it is incred¬≠i¬≠ble paired with a cold beer. Stuff it between two pieces of sour¬≠dough, with toma¬≠to slices, some hon¬≠ey, but¬≠ter, and haris¬≠sa, and you have your¬≠self an incred¬≠i¬≠ble sandwich.

On that vein, ele­vate your burg­ers by replac­ing your processed cheese squares with slices of Halloumi.

ISLAND PRIDE

The mak¬≠ing of Hal¬≠lou¬≠mi is such an inte¬≠gral and proud part of the island of Cyprus. Farm¬≠ers relied on the Mediter¬≠ranean cheese as an impor¬≠tant source of pro¬≠tein, and entire vil¬≠lages would come togeth¬≠er to make huge batch¬≠es of Halloumi. 

It was a com¬≠mu¬≠ni¬≠ty effort. Recipes dif¬≠fered with each vil¬≠lage, each tak¬≠ing pride in their own tech¬≠niques and ingre¬≠di¬≠ents. But its impor¬≠tance to vil¬≠lage life remained con¬≠stant. So much so that many Cypri¬≠ot fam¬≠i¬≠ly names, like Hal¬≠lumas, Hal¬≠luma and Hal¬≠lumakis, echo their role in its production.

Storage Instructions

Cheeses (except brined ones in jars) should be stored in the crisper or the but¬≠ter draw¬≠er of a refrig¬≠er¬≠a¬≠tor, not on the shelves them¬≠selves. This is to help reg¬≠u¬≠late their tem¬≠per¬≠a¬≠ture and humid¬≠i¬≠ty lev¬≠els‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČand pre¬≠vents the for¬≠ma¬≠tion of mold. Once opened, they should not be kept in their orig¬≠i¬≠nal pack¬≠ag¬≠ing. Semi-hard cheeses (includ¬≠ing blues) should ide¬≠al¬≠ly be wrapped in cheese paper after open¬≠ing. An alter¬≠na¬≠tive is to wrap them tight¬≠ly in parch¬≠ment paper to allow them to breathe, then loose¬≠ly in alu¬≠minum foil to keep mois¬≠ture out. Don‚Äôt for¬≠get to write up a label with the date you first opened the pack¬≠age. Replace the parch¬≠ment paper every time you open the cheese, and it will be fine for up to one month, unless oth¬≠er¬≠wise indi¬≠cat¬≠ed on best before date.