Kostarelos cheese. Does that name ring a bell? Kostarelos cheeses are known not only to those who live in Eastern Attica (keep on reading and you’ll soon find out why) but also to all those who are serious about cheese and don’t mind leaving the city centre and heading to Markopoulo in Messogia, a region close to Athens International Airport, in order to get to Kostarelos store.
It all begun back in the 30’s, when grandfather Kostarelos had a traditional taverna and made feta cheese, yogurt and rice pudding (ryzogalo in Greek) for his guests. He used to make the most basic dairy products, but mostly, the famous feta cheese, sourcing the milk from flocks raised in the region of Messogia.
As time went by, Kostarelos Cheese & Dairy moved to new cheese and dairy facilities, its new “home”, in Markopoulo Avenue. The Dairy produces feta cheese aged in wooden barrels for 12 months -the company’s flagship product-, fresh anthotyro cheese (a cheese with a mild taste having a sweet and soft texture) that you can even buy it warm as it arrives daily on the store on the moment it is produced, several types of yogurt – the strained yogurt made from goat’s milk is really special – and rice pudding. Recently, the product range was expanded to also include custards (kremes in Greek) and low-fat hard cheeses. The spreads are also a new-entry; Kostarelos tzatziki and tyrokafteri (a mild spicy spread made from feta cheese, anthotyro, olive oil and fresh peppers) are simply heavenly!
The two brothers, Kyriakos and Nikos Kostarelos, the third generation of Kostarelos, have managed to increase the number of the firm’s retail stores by four and establish a significant network of selling points (in Markopoulo, Pallini, Porto Rafti, Vrilissia). Kyriakos and Nikos are also dedicated to quality products of other Greek artisan producers, also sold in the stores apart from their own products.
In September 2015, Kyriakos and Nikos opened a store in Kolonaki, at Patriarchou Ioakim Street. This is mainly a Greek deli but also a café – a place where you instantly feel like home – serving coffee, breakfast, lunch and light meals. The store’s décor is dominated by elements involved in cheese making: the walls just above the long sitting area are lined with barrels staves where the famous Kostarelos feta cheese is shaped and left to mature. Lighting fixtures here are made from barrel hoops while walls have been decorated with photos from the feta cheese making process.
If you wish to nibble on a delicacy and have a glass of wine, do not worry. This has already been thought out. On the small tables lined at the entrance of the store and on the sidewalk, you can taste the famous Kostarelos strained yogurt topped with honey, have a sandwich or a salad ; yet again, you can also try something from the short menu with selections from products sold in the deli that has been exclusively developed for the store by a well-known chef, Chrysanthos Karamolengos.
The grocery at the back of the store sells all the range of the cheeses produced by Kostarelos Cheese & Dairy, cold cuts and cured meats, as well as products of Greek artisan producers, elegantly displayed on the shelves of the store.