There are many excellent varieties of cheese to be found in Greece but if you visit Zakynthos be sure to try ‘Dopio’ (which means ‘local’ in Greek), also known as ‘ladotyri’ (cheese in oil). It’s only produced in very few areas on the Island, usually around Spring time, using milk from organically farmed animals (80% sheep, 20% goat), using traditional methods handed down from generation to generation. Once the cheese is formed and carefully air dried it then goes into casks of olive oil, which is what gives it its’ distinctive, rich peppery flavour. The cheese can remain in the oil for up to 2 years and over this time will darken in colour and get gradually stronger as the olive oil works its’ wonders.
We get our supplies from a small farm towards Tsilivi owned by the bizarrely named ‘Bitchy Boo’ family. Going there is always a real feel good experience, you actually get to see where your food is coming from. The sheep are happily running around behind the farm and you can actually go inside the spotlessly clean cheese making area to see how it all happens. On a much bigger scale there is the ‘Basta’ farm in the area of Aghios Leon (open to the public), they supply many of the local businesses and have vacuum packed doppio which has already been in olive oil for at least 5 months, you can also try before you buy which is always reassuring. Wherever you find this beautiful cheese on the Island whether it be in a taverna or a supermarket, just be aware that the darker it is and the more holes and cracks running through it, the stronger it will be- sometimes reaching battery acid strength.
This year we are show casing ‘Dopio’ on our menu as an appetiser, serving it on gin infused carob rusks finished with homemade quince preserve, a slightly weird sounding combination that shouldn’t work but totally does. We had great fun trying out the flavour combinations and really hope you get to try it as it represents all the values that we like to promote- local produce used in an innovative style.
More traditionally Dopio is used in cooking, in sauces and stuffing and is particularly amazing crumbled into Zakynthian rabbit casserole where it adds a unique rich depth to the sauce taking it to another level. Dopio can of course and usually is, eaten on its’ own as part of a Meze or an appertiser- it’s perfect with a glass of wine & a few olives. Often the simplest things are just the best.