There’s lots of feta-like cheese out there, but only cheese made in Greece is considered true feta nowadays and you can’t call it feta anymore unless it was produced there. Like Champagne, which has to be made in Champagne or Brie de Meaux which has to be made is Meaux, it isn’t feta unless it’s made where it’s supposed to be made—in Greece.
Although I’m not much of a font of knowledge about a lot of things, if it’s food-related, I’ll do in a pinch. If you want to make something that’s impressive and incredibly simple to put together, maybe I can help you out there as well. This is a favorite around here and once you make it, you’ll be rewarded in the days following with salty chunks of cheese infused in a sublime bath of fruity olive oil scented with summery herbs.
Start with a clean jar of any size and add chunks of feta. I like to keep them large, around 2-inches (6cm) max is good. You can also use rounds of semi-firm chèvre too, and I bought a big chunk of sheep’s milk cheese today at my favorite Arab grocer that may or may not have been true feta, but was not-too-dry and I knew would be just perfect.
But use what’s available wherever you live, by all means.
As you stack the feta, add lots of branches of thyme and rosemary (don’t be shy), a few fragrant bay leaves, punch it up with some of those small, dried red chili peppers or chili flakes, add a couple of turns of freshly-ground pepper—whatever floats your boat (or the feta.) Use whatever you want. Maybe a few strips of citrus zest too. But as much as we all love garlic, it’s best not to add it since it can cause food-related illness.
Then pour olive oil into the jar until the cheese is submerged. For olive oil, my go-to oil here in Paris is Puget, which is great for everyday cooking. Feel free to use what’s available in your area. This is somewhere that you don’t need to use the best, most expensive olive oil that all those lunatic foodies are fawning over, although I do have a bottle of mid-priced K olive oil from Algeria that has the taste of kalamata olives that’s stupendous for marinating cheese. (I don’t know where it’s available in the US, and I’m not crazy enough to share what’s left of mine. But perhaps search in a Greek market for something similar.)
Some say that if the cheese is completely covered with the oil, you can let it sit around at room temperature. But if I’m not going to eat mine within 24 hours, I do stick it in the refrigerator where I like to consume it within two weeks. Although it tastes better and better with each passing day, I can’t wait long and mine usually lasts just through the following weekend. It’s great served in big chunks on a salad platter, scattered over pasta or pizza, crumbled up with fresh tomatoes with some of the tasty oil drizzled over, or even cubed as a little appetizer to finish off the last few bottles of rosé that may be lingering in your fridge.
The leftover oil is great to toss with whole wheat pasta and whatever else you like with your noodles, as a marinade for olives, roasting potatoes or vegetables, or you can use it as a base for an herbaceous vinaigrette too.
Related Recipes and Links
How to Choose Good Feta Cheese (Huffington Taste)