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ISO: Myzithra cheese

I've acquired a new recipe that calls for myzithra cheese.

I'm not familiar with this type of cheese and unsure as to where I can get it. According to internet sources, myzithra originates from Greece. So, can I assume it might be available in Greektown on the Danforth? If so, which store should I try?

I'd also appreciate some comments about its flavour -- in case I need to find a good substitute for it.

Thanks!

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  1. Mitzithra (mee-tzee-thra) is a very white, hard, dry, salty sheep's milk cheese. If you buy a whole ball of it, it'll probably cost you about $20-30. But you can also buy smaller pieces. If you've ever had the Italian Ricotta Salata, it's like that, but saltier. And yes, you'll definitely find it in Greektown but depending on where you're located, I can give you some more suggestions. Being Greek, it's a staple in our house. I once found a whole head at Longo's. Best way to use it is to shave it on a microplane. Any grocery stores on the Danforth that sell dairy will carry it, from the supermarkets to the butcher shops. It won't be hard to find at all. Do try to find and use it though, I'm sure you'll love it. It's a hard cheese, but once you grate it like that it becomes so creamy and salty with a nice sharp flavour. Although there's no other cheese really like it, you can always substitute romano or if you do find ricotta salata.

    What are you making?

    1. Make sure you find out if your recipe uses dry mizithra or fresh mizithra. Fresh mizithra is similar to fresh ricotta and not salty (might be used in desserts or to cut a saltier cheese in tyropita/cheese pies), whereas dried mizithra is the dry, hard, salty cheese Raquel has described.

      You should be able to find both on the Danforth- Greek House Market is where I would check first.

      1. Thanks Raquel and phoenikia! Not only did I not know how to pronounce mitzitra, I didn't realise it's available fresh and dried. Your description of it sound wonderful.

        The dish I want to make is Cat Cora's Kota Kapama -- (Chicken Stewed in Wine, Garlic and Cinnamon.) The recipe calls for "grated myzithra" for sprinkling over servings but doesn't specify fresh or dried. Any idea which it should be? It does say that I can substitute with Romano or Kasseri (another cheese with which I'm unfamiliar.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: DishyDiva

          Glad to be of help. Personally, other than Greece, I haven't really encountered any 'fresh' versions here that I've liked. I would go with the dry. Sun Valley on Danforth will definitely have it, as does Kostas Meat Market on Ellesmere Ave (just west of Warden).

          Kasseri is another wonderful Greek cheese; it's a semi-hard cheese and more yellow. I guess to describe the flavour, I'd say it's a mix between a mild asiago and provolone. It's not a creamy cheese, but a 'rubbery' texture cheese, if that makes any sense--kinda like cheddar, provolone, etc. Very mild. And not very salty.

          I think the mitzithra will be delicious with the dish you're making--reminds me of a Greek stifatho, usually made with rabbit, but can be substituted with chicken, with cinnamon and tomato sauce.

          1. re: DishyDiva

            Agree with Raquel that dried mizithra is what the dish you described is calling for.

            It' would be difficult to grate or sprinkle fresh mizithra, because it has a soft texture, and relatively bland flavour, similar to cottage cheese or ricotta. In my experience, fresh mizithra is used for cooking/baking, and grated, dried mizithra is sprinkled onto pastas or other hot dishes just before serving.

          2. IGA on the Danforth at Pape.
            Oddly enough, I fell in love with this cheese years ago when The Old Spaghetti Factory had a pasta with just Mitzithra cheese and butter.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Mila

              Mila, the Old Spaghetti Factory still serves this pasta. The last time I had it there (about two months ago), the pasta was properly cooked al dente, and the mizithra cheese sauce--not really a saucy sauce, more of a lightly tossed butter and grated cheese preparation--was delicious. (The pasta came with a decent green salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, and the meal was followed by the spumoni ice cream that other posters have praised. The coffee was disappointing, however, just as I remembered it from years ago.)

              Overall, the dinner was very good value for the money, particularly in these difficult times. Maybe the Old Spaghetti Factory will see a renaissance as a reliable downtown dining spot for those who are in the mood for something simple, tasty, and inexpensive?

              1. re: waydowntown

                Thanks waydowntown, maybe it's time to re-live my youth. : )

                1. re: Mila

                  I find it hard to believe the old spaghetti factory has good pasta!
                  please report back if you go!

                  Not that i don't trust you waydowntown but it's like someone told me East Side MArio's started doing an authentic to-die-for cannoli or something

                  1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                    I understand your skepticism, CoffeeAddict416, and believe me I was quite surprised to find properly cooked pasta at the SpagFac. Can't say whether it was the cooks on duty that night who made the difference, or whether the kitchen is generally under orders to serve non-mushy pasta, but I really enjoyed the meal the night I was there.

                    I'm not comparing the SpagFac to serious Italian dining by any means, but given the price point I had no complaints. The service was hurried but competent, and the server responded in a timely and courteous fashion to our requests (something I haven't been able to say about the servers in a couple of very upscale places recently).

                    The sewing-machine tables are just as uncomfortable as they ever were, though, so at least that aspect of the place remains consistent with the 1970s norm. <g>

            2. I think I saw some at Costco in Etobicoke. At the time I remembered going to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Vancouver - that's got to be a few decades ago - and I loved that cheese!