When it comes to the famous cheese product Paski Sir, Pag island bordering the crystalline waters of the Adriatic has factories as well as independent manufacturers maintaining the salty tradition. Some consumers believe that the best source to get their Paski Sir from remains the shepherd manufacturing the 100% sheep milk delight using the recipe he learned from his ancestors. Others focus on the big producers, who obtained numerous awards in the ''hard ewe's milk cheese'' category, an ideal option considering delivery if you don't find yourself traveling to Croatia but still want to enjoy its cuisine.
Consecrating the Unique
There are many elements which need to be respected by the ones who want to turn the natural aromatic sheep milk into the hard, yellowish blocks. The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) enumerates the strict conditions which need to be respected among which the conditions of keeping the animals, the vegetation these graze on and the manufacturing techniques are some of the most important.
Approximately 40,000 sheep are kept on the Croatian island. The specific breed on the island of Pag can be characterized by their mall body mass and their undemanding diet they survive on.
Before the 20th century, the locals used to take care of the sheep and milk them in dry stone huts built on Pag's hilly parts. Even if there were no privately owned pastures historically, the customary stone huts were changed to pastoral homes and the making of Paski Sir became a process shared in the family. Some families shared and invested in their tradition managing to develop into the country's main producers; still the unique taste has not been altered even if modern times came with advanced technology.
Paška Sirana- The ''Mother'' of Paški Sir
With over 65 years in the manufacturing of Paski Sir, no wonder that Paska Sirana, the producer who launched the famous sheep milk cheese recipe on the market likes the ''mother'' reference. The oldest factory on the island now, Paska Sirana started its activity back in 1946 using the milk of only a flock of sheep. From a small agricultural cooperative to a modern company exporting its famed products all over Europe as well as in USA, the metamorphosis was only a natural one considering the superior tasting dairy product. When it comes to awards, this ''mother'' is extremely proud of her progeny winning the Silver Medal in the ''World Cheese Awards'' 2011.
Sirana Gligora – Developing a Family Tradition
Behind the name of main producer Gligora stands dairy expert Ivan Gligora. Even if he obtained the first artisan skills in the family, his specialization in the department of Zagreb Creamery turned him into one of Croatia's most respected technologists. Nowadays, Gligora's New Dairy is located in Kolan, in the core of Pag island and has three other outlets in Zadar, Rijeka and Split offering a full presentation on their milky delights. When it comes to Gligora's Paski Sir, this is one of their most exhibited goods.
Not only that the famous cheese was a leader in national fairs but during 2008, 2009 and 2010 Gligora won the 3 Star Superior Taste Award given by the International Quality and Taste Institute.
When thinking about purchasing Gligora's Paski Sir you can either trust the description given by some of the prestigious chefs ''wonderfully tasteful sheep milk cheese that brings full and complex flavors to the palate and melts nicely in the mouth'' or choose the guided tours option where you get to appreciate its quality yourself.
Choosing Big Producers
There are three main advantages when choosing the Paski Sir manufactured in a dairy factory. If you find yourself in Croatia and pick the ''cheese tours'', you will be able to sample on the goods before deciding which one you prefer to purchase. The fact that it has a recognized quality is also influential; this way the buyer can be sure that he is purchasing an authentic product made of 100% sheep milk cheese. The main advantage of the big producers is purchasing from them if you are outside the country but still want to enjoy the symbolic product of Pag. With the help of the big producers, the artisan cheese from Pag gained fame in Europe and even outside the continent's borders.
When in Croatia
Picking the distinct tasting Paski Sir while you are on your trip to Croatia, should not be a problem since the traditional cheese capturing the taste of the Bora is widely available all over the country. Besides the stores of the big producers, there is also the option of the local markets as well as the independent manufacturers selling some of the most traditional goods right by the road or in front of their homes. Looking for Paski Sir at the local market, you will find it hidden among fresh vegetables and other aliments specific for the Dalmatian archipelago.
One of the best Paski Sir that you can buy is from the independent manufacturers. Not only they learned the art of making the salty dairy product among the family but they are maintaining the old shepherd's recipe alive. They do not produce tones of Paski Sir entering competitions and winning awards but the fact that they continue a generations old heritage will always be special.
With an idea or two on where to get Pag Cheese, you do not have to give up craving the awarded savory dairy but choose the best way for you to purchase it. Enjoy the aromas of Paski Sir, a high quality artisan product which makes the Croats proud.