KRINOS 100% Goat Milk Feta and Spanakopita (Spanakotyropita)
Alright, I am a total a noob when it comes to cheese, let alone feta. I understand that there's quite a variety of places in Toronto that one can get hands on good quality feta. Which I plan on exploring at some point.
For the mean time, I chose a shorter path for my suburban convenience by purchasing one at Loblaw's nearby; 100% Goat Milk Feta Cheese from Krinos for the purpose of making Spanakopita, that is. I found the goatiness way too pungent for my palate, but I couldn't detect any of it when I tasted the finished mixture, so that was definitely a bit of relief.
The problem is, I have absolutely no idea what GREAT TRADITIONAL feta should taste like! So, here are my questions to anybody out there that knows... is Krinos 100% g.m. feta worth my money for me to keep using it? How about their 100% s.m. feta? (I haven't tried their s.m. feta yet, but, thinking about it now, it makes more sense that I should've used this one instead since it's usually made from sheep milk, I believe?) If both of them are a no-no, do share the goods, I mean better alternatives in Toronto.
Thanks a mega bunch in advance!
So sorry jayt90, but did you mean the three as in both Krinos' g.m and s.m fetas AND the Bulgarian cheese from Highland Farms? And, could you be so kind as to recommend which middle eastern stores in Lawrence and Warden that are not to be missed (for their feta and possibly similar products)? :)
The two out of three that I have had are Krinos sheeps feta, and the Bulgarian shheps feta in the green can. I haven't had Krinos goats milk feta, but most other Canadian feta is now a combination of goats and cows milk. The cows milk is used to tame the goat flavor or tang.
At one time Canadian feta was 100% cows milk, but the Milk Marketing Board was difficult to work with, so the cheesemakers, often Greek Canadians, encouraged Mennonite farmers to develop goat herds, and Krinos has somewhat courageously introduced a goats milk feta (as I said, I haven't tried it, but will).
The supply of sheeps milk in Ontario is somewhat limited compared to goats, as they only lactate in the spring, unlike goats. But there are probably more sheep than goats in the province.
I bought the Bulgarian feta at Nasr; I don't know if Arz carried it, but Nasr is poorly stocked, so I hear. Highland Farms at Ellesmere and Kennedy is a better source.
1996 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA
1909 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA
850 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P, CA
The Krinos 100% Goats Milk Feta is an all-Canadian product, which I like very much. It is less creamy than the Krinos Greek Feta. At Highland Farms the Greek is 14.99/lb while the 100% Goats Milk is slightly under $10/lb. Highland has a good selection and they give samples, as long as it doesn't look like you're trying to scam a free meal. Some of my relatives swear by the Dodonis Greek Feta. Some of my non-Greek friends argue for the Macedonian or Bulgarian Feta. It really a matter of taste, if not politics.
Which of the three Krinos fetas (100% goat milk, sheep milk, and the greek) that one should use to make spanakopita (spanakotyropita) in order to be as authentic as possible? I'm very curious about this Greek feta from Krinos you mentioned; does that mean they import it from Greece as opposed to their g.m and s.m, which are entirely domestic?
I'd also be very grateful if you could recommend the best of Highland Farms in terms of feta and alikes! I've heard about the Dodonis one as well; I always thought it was available only below the border? Do Highland Farms carry it or do you know of any other places in town that do?
Among my Greek family and friends, the choice of feta for making Tyropita or Spanikopita is a matter of taste and person preference. Some even add other, non-Greek cheeses with great impact! (I like variety and innovation, as long as the results are good and don't always concern myself with authenticity.) It seems like no two tyropitas make by different people are alike, and many of them - especially at church or community events - will say their own is the most authentic.
The Krinos Greek Feta is imported and the goat's milk is 100% Canadian. Highland Farms does carry the Dodonis, as far as I know. I cannot comment of various stores, as the only HIghland convenient to me is Dufferin between Finch and Steeles.
Dodonis is extremely expensive, but some of the best feta you'll ever eat. I do however suggest for the more budget minded the Skotidakis brand feta which is made in Canada with goat and/or sheep's milk depending on the variety you buy. Skotidakis feta is the best Canadian made feta I've ever had.
As for purchasing format, only buy in brine... vac packed is just plain wrong.
Agree with OTFOODIE that it's a mostly a matter of taste. Also, the textures vary greatly between different fetas- some being much creamier than others. Bulgarian and French fetas tend to be much creamier than Canadian cow milk fetas sold in the vacuum packs, which tend to be dry. I prefer a creamier feta.
There are some Greek fetas that are used for baking and cooking, and other Greek fetas that are used for the table and salads. The person selling the feta (esp.at shops on the Danforth or at the St.Lawrence Market) might be able to recommend a feta that will suit spanakopita.
I usually buy feta in brine, by weight, as I need it, rather than buying it in a sealed plastic container at the grocery store.
For my last batch of spanakopita, I used half imported Greek sheep milk feta, and half local Ontario goat milk feta. Turned out great.
If you have the time, I'd visit a place like Greek House Market or Alex Farms, and ask for samples, to see which type of feta you like the best. They should have 6 or 8 varieties.
Re: authenticity. I would say in Greece, sheep and goat milk feta are more common in the islands, since they don't tend to have cows, but it's quite possible parts of the northern mainland would use more cow milk feta. But Greece is such a large country, with over a dozen distinct regional cooking styles, so I don' think one type of feta is necessarily more authentic than another.
There is a huge variation in the styles of spanakopitas and tiropitas in Greece, and in Greek Canadian homes, and I don't think the type of feta you use will mark your pita as authentic or non-authentic. If you use frozen spinach, that's another story. That would definitely mark you as a lazy North American in my books ;-)
I think that the best Greek feta by far is Dodonis (often marketed as Greek barrel feta). You can get it at Alex Cheese shops around Toronto. Also you may wish to ask at your local grocery store what brand the "Greek feta" being sold at their deli counters is.
In my opinion, Greek feta should be semi firm, briny, and creamy when you put it in your mouth. There is nothing worse than feta that is too hard and dry. That is what I generally find with Canadian feta so when I do buy, I tend to splurge on the Greek feta.
As to goat milk vs sheeps milk feta, I agree with the other posters that it really is a matter of taste but the goats' milk feta is generally stronger tasting. Experiment and see which you prefer. But I would recommend staying away from the prepackaged tubs if you can (or buy the smallest size possible) and try different feta from the purveyors on Danforth or other ethnic food stores. I have heard that Israeli feta is also quite good.
Here's a tip: if you have purchased feta that you find is too hard, put it in a plastic container with a combination of cold water and milk (just to cover the cheese) to make your own brine. This will soften the cheese and make it creamier. Alternatively, pour some very good quality olive oil over it and sprinkle it with oregano and eat it. Or mix it with ricotta cheese and use it as a filling for spanakopita or vegetarian lasagna.
If you like creamy feta, you should also try Bulgarian feta. It can be bought in Greek grocery stores on the Danforth and at Alex Farms afaik. The Bulgarian feta is creamier than most Greek fetas, but cheaper than the creamier, more expensive Greek fetas like Dodonis.
There's different types of Greek feta for different purposes. The creamier fetas are for eating (straight up or in a salad) and the drier/harder fetas are for dishes that get cooked.