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Cheese from Zakynthos

In Agyos Leontas area on Zakynthos island, Greece, lives Panayotis bastas - third generation cheesemaker. He manufactures unpopular but quite unique product - the Zankynthos cheese. 

And what a cheese! Quite spicy, Zakynthos cheese pretends for place on the top of World best cheeses. On Zakynthos there is no pub or restaurant where it is is not served as appetizer. Most likely the hotel and restaurant owners make it personally, as it is made in many hoiuseholds on the island. The officcial dairy farms that produce it are quite few, and most popular is BASTA farm in the mountain village called Agyos Leontas.

 Panayotis Bastas is third generation cheesemaker and is proud to continue the family tradition, as his father and grandfather have been experience farmers. But he is the one that makes the big step. In 2008 he creates the most complete and modern dairy farm in the area of his father's house. "I can not imagine to do something else" - he says. Along with his wife they work hard and unrest, especially in the busyest season after Easter. In all the processes: milk gathering, maturation and distribution of the product. The flagman of this dairy farm is LADOTIRI - or the local, how people of Zakynthos call it. Made of 80% sheep milk and 20 % goat milk. 

At the production peak the dairy farm works with 1 ton of milk per day. This ammount of milk gives about 200 kgs. of cheese. Cheese matures in Zakynthos olive oil several months: in this period it thickens, gets darker colour, cracks and different by shapes and size holes. The tastes gets stronger and spicy. The cheese can mature inside olive oil year and a half and even two years and become extremely spicy - says Panayotis. 

Additionally with the olive oil chhese, BASTAS dairy farm produces fresh milk, white cheese FETA and high on fats cheese GRAVIERA - whole made from sheep milk, also matured in olive oil. PRENZA is high quality fresh goat cheese that is served as appetizer or in oregano (Zakynthos toast with tomatos, oregano annd sometimes anchovy sauce). Small amount of Zakynthos cheese is produced with black truffle GREVENA - this receipt is made with the main chef of Zakynthos Janis Vardakastanis.