Several posts ago, I wrote about my favorite Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas. His Greek restaurant Lola, is one of my happy places and it never ceases to amaze me just how amazingly elated and content I feel when I’m there – good food can do that! Michael and I usually get his kebabs, which (for lunch) include your choice of kebabs, along with Jackie’s Greek salad and the most fantastic homemade pita with tzatziki. While I usually get the lamb or pork kebabs, Michael gets the Halloumi cheese with roasted figs in a balsamic reduction. I had never had Halloumi cheese before and it’s a magical texture of firm and yet squishy – in a good way with a Mediterranean salty flavor. I didn’t really make the connection that one could buy and prepare Halloumi for oneself; I just figured it was something special that I’d only have at Lola.
Last week Joyce, one of my Wednesday morning BodyFlow class participants invited me along with several other class members over to her house for an informal post-class soiree. After we had all arrived, I noticed Joyce sautéing some white squares that kind of looked like tofu. Several minutes later they were done and she put them on a plate with the rest of the food. As we were all chatting, I picked up a slice, put it on a toast and took a bite. Immediately I recognized the texture and flavor. My eyes lit up and I asked Joyce if this was the same cheese that Tom Douglas uses at Lola (she too is a fan of his restaurants). She said yes, it’s Halloumi. I was so excited, I felt as if I had discovered a secret cheese that only cool people know about and I made a note in my phone.
On our next visit to Top Foods, without looking at my phone, I asked the cheese lady if she had Hamichi. I was very disappointed when she said she had never heard of Hamichi. She asked do you mean Halloumi? Yes! That’s it! Laughing to myself, good thing I didn’t ask for a Hibachi!
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese from Cyprus. It combines the texture of mozzarella with the brine of feta. It has a high melting point that allows it to be grilled or fried.
Last night I sliced some Halloumi and placed the slices in a hot pan. No oil or pan coating is needed, as the cheese cooks in it’s own brine solution. Cook for only a few minutes on each side, until patches of golden appear. I used Raincoat Crisps crackers, flavor fig & olive, topped with a little Dalmatia Fig Spread (or fig jam) and put the cheese on top. Oh my! What a wonderful explosion of flavor and texture – the crunch of the cracker, the sweetness of the fig spread and the salty creaminess of the cheese. This will impress your guests for sure. Add some Marcona almonds and your favorite beverage and you have yourself a lovely appetizer or gourmet snack. Seriously, this is the new “Best Thing Ever”. Thanks Joyce!