The bay is like a fjord …
And the hamlet in the port of Gerakas, in northeastern Pelponnesus, is nice: a handful of old fishermen’s houses with arches, many taverns – a constant attraction to visitors all year round – boats parked in the streets, a few more boats at the dock, yellow piles of fishing nets beside whitewashed walls.
At the edge of the bay the shallow waters make auburn salt marshes: a small wetland. I saw a wild duck flying…
Speaking about taste you would probably think that I found there fresh fish, shrimps, fishermen and seafood-related things…
Yes, of course… I did find all those. But I also found something else. Something with a very strong smell… really strong. Too strong …
I’m talking about the – famous among foodies in Laconia region – touloumotiri cheese. Searching about that and asking around I arrived at the small grocery store of Giannis Sofos, at the port of Gerakas.
It was a winter day and an ice cold northwestern wind was freezing the boats at the docks.
At the grocery store I found the sons of the grocer, Nektarios and Panagiotis, the original cheese makers. I asked for touloumotiri. They laughed.
Why did they laugh?
“Can you bear the smell?” they asked.
“Well, yeah …” I replied. What could I say?
They lead me at the back of the grocery, at a small storeroom. There I saw the famous delicacy, the touloumotiri cheese, surrounded by baskets with fishing lines and buoys. The smell was simply … monstrous.
The touloumotiri nowadays is a rare cheese. It is quite popular in the area of Zarakas and Kyparissi villages but it is still hard to find it.
The two brothers show me the cheese, which matures in large, filled to the top, goatskins. They described me the intriguing process of cheese making.
«We spread salt and dry the skin from a very young goat, so that the hair is plucked. The hair is important for the maturing of the cheese… “
What interesting details… I thought.
“We cut the hair and wash it with traditional soap. This hair will «bake» the cheese. As time passes, the cheese matures more” said Nektarios, standing beneath the rafters where round white fresh cheeses were hung, glowing in the twilight of the humid cellar.
The fierce smell from the goat skins was mercilessly punching my stomach …
If you did not understand you better see the photos. The cheese is in the touloumi (aka the goatskin), on the side which the hair is! I do not know if foodies shave it before eating… I did not ask. I considered that impolite. Besides everyone here say “touloumotiri” like it is food from heaven…
If you ever come here (it’s a very nice trip, believe me!) and you are still brave enough try to taste the local cheese, an authentic touloumotiri at Sofos’ grocery store, at the port of Gerakas. I could not try it. I was a coward…
I could not bear … I’m not so brave …
I went outside and the salty breeze of Myrtoon sea freshened me up.
Mmm …. Something smelled good. In “Avra” little tavern someone was frying shrimps.
I will try these indeed!
Where am I?
Gerakas is located in Laconia, in the eastern Peloponnesus. The best and fastest way to get here is by Sparta and Reichia and Molai villages. The most beautiful (and slower!) Is through Leonidion – Peleta villages.
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