Kefalograviera Cheese

Pan-fried saganaki, featuring kefalograviera cheese

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Kefalograviera (Κεφαλογραβιέρα), pronounced keh-fah-lo-grahv-YAIR-ah, is one of the newer Greek cheeses but has become one of the most important cheeses commercially. Production was started in the 1960s and it has quickly become a favorite table cheese. It is produced in the rugged mountains of Epirus and Macedonia and is made from 100 percent sheep's milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk. It is aged for three months or longer before it is available for sale.

The taste of this hard yellow cheese is salty; it has a rich aroma, nutty flavor, and smooth mouthfeel. Kefalograviera falls somewhere between kefalotyri and graviera cheeses—hence the name—having a similar intensity to kefalotyri with the mellowness of graviera.

How to Buy

Kefalograviera is sold in wheels or wedges. Its rind ranges in color from yellow to dark brown and it's dotted with little air holes. It should be firm but smooth to the touch.

It can be found at Greek or Mediterranean markets, and a low-fat variety has recently appeared on store shelves. You may find the name spelled "kefalograviera," and although "kefalotyri" is its own variety, sometimes this cheese is labeled as such.

Serving Suggestions

Kefalograviera is prized as a table cheese as part of a meze (appetizer) platter, and is ideal paired with Greek spirits such as ouzo as well as white wine. It is the cheese commonly used in saganaki, where the cheese is coated with seasoned flour and lightly fried. Kefalograviera is also grated and sprinkled atop pasta, and as part of baked dishes and gratins. It is also delicious with lamb. The rind can be left on the cheese whether slicing and serving or frying.

Kefalograviera should be stored in the refrigerator. Remove about one hour before using so it can come to room temperature.

Substitutes for Kefalograviera

If you cannot find kefalograviera, you can substitute other cheeses but keep in mind the resulting taste will not be exactly the same. You can try pecorino Toscano, pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Regato, kefalotyri, aged myzithra, and aged Gruyère.