Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Feh to Feta

Cheese snobs don't do Feta, the brined sheep cheese that is the accompaniment to so many Greek dishes, but I do. I love the salty pungency of a good Feta, whether in a salad, on a sandwich or by itself.

Papa Cristo's (Pico and Normandie), LA's best spot for Greek food and groceries, carries three Fetas: Greek, French and Bulgarian, and I gave each a try on a recent trip.

Greek Feta is the classic; flavored perfectly, salty and sharp, it is exactly what you expect when you bite into a lamb and Feta sandwich and Papa's is a great one.

French Feta was my least favorite. The flavors are much milder than the others. The cheese was less salty and had less character. The French make great cheeses, but they should leave feta to the Greeks.

Bulgarian Feta blew me a way with its big, earthy, barnyardy flavors. Salt and brine, but also some real sheepy flavor. This is probably the only one of the three that could really stand on its own, just on a plate with some bread, as opposed to in a salad or on a sandwich. Good stuff from Bulgarians.

Now, if you are buying from Papa Cristo's, you need to be careful. The cheese lady who was at the counter when I went and ordered all three varieties made sure to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that Greek is simply the best and I really need not bother with the others. Since I was getting Greek, I got a pass, but if you are going just to get Bulgarian, you may want to come up with an excuse to get the Bulgarian..."Yes, Greek is definitely the best, but I've got some Bulgarian friends coming over," or "Greek is too good for what I'm going to do with this feta." If you're lucky, such an excuse may save you from the evil eye of the cheese lady.


Anonymous said...

I went to Papa Cristo's for the first time a few weeks ago, and I'm still regretting not trying their spanokopita. I foresee a return trip... But no Greek place I've tried is as good as my Greek friends' homemade food. Sadly, my friends live 3000 miles away.

But on to feta! I adore feta. I've never had a chance to try Bulgarian feta, though. I may have to pick up some whenever I head back to Papa Cristo's. I can almost taste it now: a slice of earthy feta, a slice of black bread, maybe a sliced tomato as well.

sku said...

Papa Cristo's is definitely the best Greek I've had in LA, and while that may not be saying much based on its competition, it's great even by east coast standards.

Gyros, lamb sandwiches, spanakopita as well as cheese pies, saganaki (fried cheese), grilled baby octopus...and great baklava from the bakery to boot.

Bon Vivant said...

Ha, ha, thanks for the tip on how do deal with the cheese lady! I prefer Bulgarian to any other kind of feta.

I think that the Greek place in the Grove/Farmers Market is slightly better. I am basing this on the tamarosalata that I've had at each place. PC's was just ok but other place's had far more finesse.

Although people rave about the special Thurs night dinners at PC's the food is much better during normal service hours (it's fun though!)

sku said...

BV, if you mean Ulysses Voyage, I tried it once and was pretty unimpressed, but that was right when it opened and it may well have improved since then.

If you mean Moishe's, the middle eastern place in the FM, they make a mean lamb ka-bob, but I'd still opt for Papa's.

Then again, I'm not comparing their tamarosalatas, so I may come to a different conclusion.