Goat meat dried in the sun and covered with salt and oregano, tsamarella is a real rarity whose secret lies in the utter simplicity of its preparation. Unfortunately, few traces are left of this tradition in its native Cypress, perhaps only in the memories of the island’s inhabitants. In a protected area high in the mountains, the indigenous tradition of goat herding yields both excellent cheeses and delicious meat. Tsamarella’s dark, burgundy-hued cubes are not particularly inviting in appearance, however, its bold spiciness and pleasant gamey flavor are remarkable, and particularly good with zivania, the Cypriot grappa. The producers of the Presidium prepare tsamarella only from the thigh of the animal because it is the leanest, most highly valued cut and best provides the earthy, rustic flavor and smoothness they are looking for. The leg is butterflied and cut into strips, immersed in salt and oregano and left to dry in the sun for 7-10 weeks. The recipe is a lighter version of age-old apokti, a preparation that is said to have used the meat of goats that have died of old age.
The Presidium, the first in Cyprus, aims to promote tsamarella in local markets and to bring it to international attention. The most challenging aspect of the project, however, is saving the Machairas, a native goat breed which is nearly extinct, despite being particularly suited to grazing the dry and spiny scrub of the Cypriot hills with its long limbs and short coat. To this end, the production protocol includes a stipulation that a quota for this breed must be met. The few such animals still left live mainly in the western Troödos mountains.
Pitsilia region, Nicosia district
tel. +357 99559159