Lebanese cheese? Yes, please!

Lebanese cheese? Yes, please!

Lebanon is a country known for its flavorsome food, not least its delicious dairy products. Barbara Massaad, cookbook author, food consultant and president of Slow Food Beirut, shares her insight on Lebanese cheeses.

What differentiates Lebanese cheeses from other varieties?
Cheeses in Lebanon are mostly fresh or white due to the moderate Mediterranean climate, making them different from the refined varieties produced in European countries.

What characterizes a great Lebanese cheese, and what should a buyer pay attention to?
The greatest Lebanese cheeses I have found are those made by producers in the villages, traditional varieties such as serdeleh/anbaris and darfieh. They are made of goat’s milk and have a pungent, sharp flavor to them. It’s definitely worth a trip to the mountains to taste these cheeses.

How are local cheeses being used in cooking?
The most popular Lebanese cheese to cook with is halloum. It is often grilled in a hot pan. Often, chefs are adding spices, such as zaatar or dukah, to the cheese just before serving it with fresh seasonal vegetables.

What cheese trends do you expect to see in the local market?
I wouldn’t say it’s a new trend per se, but the use of domestic cheeses over foreign imports is definitely on the rise.

Which providers have you noticed currently offering great selections of Lebanese cheeses?
I am very excited about Hadwane’s new location in Zalka, Mount Lebanon. I believe the quality of their products is excellent and consistent. Taanayel Farms and Gout Blanc also offer great selections.

Barbara Massaad,
Cookbook author,
Food consultant,
President of Slow Food Beirut

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