Early in the morning, we leave the hotel and head to the Lassithi Plateau at an altitude of 850m, following scenic roads offering spectacular panoramic views.
First, we pay a visit to the sheep pen, where we get to meet a traditional local breed, the “kokkinomaton” – and, of course, Yannis. He will tell us of his history, his family, his life as a farmer and his herd, consisting of approximately 300 animals.
It is now time to help Yannis round up his herd for milking.
The milking demonstration allows those brave enough to participate, right before the milk is whisked away to the cheese dairy, which is located at a few hundred metres where it is then processed.
It is time for us to follow a narrow trail around the hill slopes, admiring the beauty of nature, to meet Manolis at the cheese dairy.
The milk is already boiling and will soon give us curds. It is finally time to discover all the secrets of artisan cheese making and take an active part in the process – if you wish to…
But our visit is far from over! Let’s sneak a peek at the cheese cellar… and take some time out for a snack – here, anything goes, from water to Raki (Crete’s traditional spirit)!
Yannis and Manolis are calling so we don’t miss out on the preparation of the mizithra. Mizithra is feta’s youngest sister. Yet one more Greek cheese, it is produced from feta whey and fresh goat milk. This cheese is consumed both fresh and dry. It is an integral part of both sweet and savoury Cretan dishes and pastries. A veritable delight for cheese lovers.
Once the mizithra is made, it is time to take to the table inside the cheese dairy and enjoy a cosy and friendly traditional Cretan lunch, accompanied, quite naturally, by goat cheese.
Inexhaustible Yannis talks about the sheep shearing festival, his grandmother and mother spinning wool, making bells for the flocks of sheep and so many other things that spark our curiosity.
However, the time has come to depart. Content after this eye-opening and authentic experience, we head back to the hotel.