The bus driving force shook his head. “Zatvoren,” he stated, looking at my ticket to Pag. “Closed.”
I became scheduled to travel to Pag, a barren, moonscape-like island off Croatia’s northern Dalmatian coast, however, the bridge became closed. Paški most – the bridge connecting the island to the mainland – is the most effective factor of entry with the aid of street, and the bureau, an effective north-Japanese wind, thwarted my plans.
The bureau (additionally called bora) can reach hurricane-power speeds; its 2004 file within the Dalmatian city of Split turned into 174.6km/h. Its robust gusts define Pag and its famous cheese, Paški sir, dusting wild herb-filled pastures with Adriatic sea salt, which offers the sheep’s milk a completely unique flavor. Robust, salt-lined aromatic herbs – such as sage, sea fennel, St John’s Wort, immortelle, and thyme – are a treat for the sheep.
After spending the night time at the mainland expecting the bridge to re-open, I headed to Pag the next morning. Clouds shrouded the steely blue-gray Velebit mountain variety like a thick wool cloak. The bus crossed the slim bridge to the island over the quick stretch of sea, making its way beyond sand-colored hills and snaking suhozid (limestone dry partitions). Neat, square salt apartments were orderly in an otherwise untamed panorama, and large white wind turbines revolved lazily. Looking at the calm floor of the slate-blue Adriatic, it becomes almost not possible to trust the violent bureau had pummelled the island simply the day prior.
This thin, finger-shaped island, about 60km long and shy of 8km at its widest factor, is domestic to around 35,000 to 40,000 hardy, autochthonous sheep called paške once and 8,500 human inhabitants, many of whom are involved within the cheese enterprise. From small own family artisans to its biggest producers, Paška Tirana, Sirana Gligora and Sirana MiH, Paški sir is the island’s satisfaction.
Pag’s award-winning cheese is always making headlines. Paška sirana won a Gold Award for Sheep Milk Specialty Cheese at the Global Cheese Awards in 2017; that same 12 months, Serena MiH won a gold medal for its Paški sir at Croatian Cheese Days; and Sirana Gligora’s Paški sir won the Super Gold Award on the World Cheese Awards in 2018. In 2019, Paški sir accomplished ZOI repute, Croatia’s countrywide equivalent of the European Union’s PDO (blanketed designation of beginning), which specifies that Pag cheese can best be made on Pag the usage of milk from Pag sheep and salt from the island. ZOI fame is a phase before acquiring PDO repute from the European Union, and producers are eagerly waiting for protection of the Paški sir call during the EU.
“Paški sir became the meals of the human beings for hundreds of years – they ate it for survival,” stated Milan Orešković, head of manufacturing at Sirana Gligora, a creamery based by using Ivan Gligora in 1995 and managed by using his son, Šime. Costing as much as 100 euros for a 2.6kg wheel, Paški sir is now a delicacy that locals provide as gifts and consume on unique activities.
“It isn’t always a cheese for the sandwich,” stated Martina Pernar Škunca, marketing supervisor at Paška Tirana. Founded in 1946, this is the oldest creamery on the island and it produces one hundred lots of Paški sir annually. Pernar Škunca’s father, Ante Pernar, was CEO of Paška Tirana for 35 years, and her own family is one of the owners of the company.
Young Paški sir most intently resembles young Manchego in taste and texture, while the tougher, caramel-colored elderly model contains crystals and is harking back to a nutty, piquant Pecorino Romano. I bit into a slice of younger Pag cheese and relished its herby, salty flavor – echoes of the bureau’s influence. This semi-gentle model may be enjoyed shaved on the pinnacle of pasta and risotto or melted in pasta dishes as a sauce, while elderly Pag cheese is first-rate savored through itself and is regularly served crumbled and drizzled with olive oil.
“The bureau offers milk that salty contact,” Pernar Škunca said. “Bura is our sturdy ally in manufacturing.”