Southern Peloponnese, and in particular Messinia and Laconia, is the place where a unique cheese with a striking personality is made. This is sfella, also called “fire cheese”, due to its strong, spicy flavour. Sfella has been registered as a Protected Designation of Origin product.
It is a semi-hard cheese, which is matured in brine until it acquires its characteristic pale yellow colour. The cheese is full of small holes, formed during fermentation. It is made from pure sheep or sheep and goats’ milk and is essentially a version of the well-known feta. The way the cheese mass is cut into small strips is the reason for this fine-sounding name, as ‘sfella’ means strip.
The manufacture of sfella, as it is done today, follows a long tradition. Each pastoral family had its own special secrets that ensured unique taste and quality. Sfella has become very popular among modern gastronomers. Its exquisite aroma, distinctive and strong, lends a special individuality to a variety of dishes. It is offered on its own as an hors d’oeuvre, baked on a charcoal grill, but is also used as part of demanding recipes, accompanied by fine meats or strong-flavoured vegetables, like aubergines.