I like to think of myself as quite an aficionado of white cheese. I really, really like it and have been known to take my own kalıp or lump with me when I travel!
|all these places are in northwestern Turkey: Ezine, Edirne, Bayramiç and Trakya or Thrace|
|the prices are per kilo|
I'm not a great fan of other Turkish cheeses as I find them all very similar - they may be örgü/plaited or sepet/ basket, but to my taste at least, they are much of a muchness.
But beyaz peynir: YES!
I remember years ago while on a THY flight, I read in Skylife magazine an article about white cheese and a place called Ezine. Now, I knew that I knew that place and I got very excited! T, I said to my husband, Ezine is that place that we drive through on the way to Assos (which is where we had recently acquired a stone house). Let's stop the next time we are driving through and check it out!
|Ezine high street|
Ezine isn't the most prepossessing of places and you could be forgiven for driving through without a second glance.
BUT it is indeed renowned for the quality of its white cheese so stop we did! We were there again last Monday too for the weekly pazar and I took these photos.
On both sides of the main street, you see shop after shop proclaiming its own special brand.
|peynir means white cheese and peynirci means seller or producer of white cheese|
White cheese, literally the translation of beyaz peynir, is without doubt an essential part of the Great Turkish Breakfast along with olives, tomatoes and cucumbers. I eat all of these on a daily basis and firmly believe that it's the best breakfast in the world!
|If you think you've seen this picture before, you probably have as it's the one at the top of my facebook Page-|
I love it! The quintessential Turkish breakfast!
How do you choose your white cheese? The choice can be bewildering. When I first came here after having lived in Ankara, I honestly don't remember it being like now - must be the improvements in roads and transportation or something but now we have a huge variety of white cheese from different regions with differing consistencies and correspondingly different tastes.
|a typical cheese selection on sale at Ezine market last Monday - did I buy some? Of course I did! Real|
Ezine white cheese from Ezine Pazar!
Let's have a look at what's it all about:
- White cheese can be made from the milk of either cows, goats or sheep: inek/keçi/koyun. By far and away, the most common and most popular is that made from cows' milk. This is probably because the taste isn't so sharp or pronounced as the others' and is the one that will usually be served as a meze in restaurants. My personal favourite is keçi mixed with a little koyun, a tangy goat and sheep combination.
- Beyaz peynir comes in two consistencies: soft/yumuşak, or hard/sert. This is a personal choice, it really is, and can be a make or break factor. I like it on the soft side but not too soft, just to be fussy! If you buy soft, you should eat your piece every day otherwise your block will become even softer and in the end, will become unappetisingly mushy.
- It can be pretty salty so, just like overly salty olives, you wash your block of cheese under the cold tap at home and place it in a bowl of water - the water should come up no more than halfway.
- If you buy it sert or hard, you should anyway keep it in a little water in a plastic container in the fridge. Every day you should turn it around so that one side doesn't soften up too much.
- But again, the whole point is how fast you eat your way through your kalıp or piece of the cheese! If you chomp your way through fast enough, you don't need extra water around, but if you are not a serious white cheese-eater, you will need it as otherwise it will harden and turn yellow. Because I eat the stuff regularly and finish one kalıp every week, I don't do this.
- The cheese can be full fat/yağlı or half fat/yarım yağlı. You will see variations too eg az yağlı which means just a little fat! As with all these things, the full fat one is the tastiest!
- So basically white cheese is for breakfast, as a rakı meze in the evening and then in between times, for use in various börek/yufka or filo pastries,and other savouries including salads.
- Yufka shops often sell a special soft white cheese called böreklik for making börek. It's certainly not essential to have this type: you can always use your usual kahvaltılık or breakfast variety. If it's hard, just grate it.
|Trakya means Thrace.|
A good cheese vendor won't hesitate to offer you a sliver of whichever cheese you are interested in - and more! I find the procedure wonderfully engaging and it does help you decide which one you want to buy!
This is what the spring pastures around Ezine look like at the moment.
Click here for my börek recipes: white cheese and parsley is a classic filling for these tasty savoury pastries which are so often served at tea parties!
Just to show you a typical plate of meze with the traditional triangle of white cheese. This place - Vira Vira in Arnavutköy, Istanbul - has a particularly delicious selection. It's a fish restaurant on the Bosphorus (go in summer and make sure you get a table on their upstairs terrace) with great fish and great service!
Highly recommended! It's our fave!