Made of two of its most characteristic products, kopanisti and rusks, Mostra is one of the island’s best known mezedes.
While spicy kopanisti was relished only by the locals and a few connoisseurs until recently, the Mykonos Dairy Factory (Tyrokomeio Mykonou) using modern packaging and marketing has succeeded in placing this exotic product in most city supermarkets. Rusks, though popular throughout Greece, remain humble. And yet for centuries ‘twice baked’ breads sustained not only the islanders but also the crews of the merchant fleets sailing the Aegean, who found Mykonos to be the best suppliers of naval biscuit. Using two things they had in abundance, wind and brushwood, they turned wheat into flour with their windmills and then turned the flour into twice baked bread (rusks) in their outdoor ovens. (Unlike fresh bread, rusks never go mouldy.)
Making mostra is simple and easy. All you need is one large rusk – prefererably rye – a tablespoon of kopanisti, a large ripe tomato and a tablespoon of olive oil, plus some oregano, capers and olives if you want to dress it up. Moistening the rusk is the only thing you have to watch out for. Too dry and it’s hard on the teeth, too wet it becomes soggy and loses its appealing crunchiness. Dip the rusk in a bowl of water, shake off the excess, spread the kopanisti over it and then add sliced or coarsely chopped tomato. Sprinkle with olive oil and the oregano and capers if using. The spicy taste of the kopanisti – the older the cheese the more intense the peppery flavour – is balanced by the sweetness of the tomato, an exciting combination.