I was approached (HERE somewhere ) by my Mr. Simon Kerr, of Sirana (Dairy) Gligora from Kolan on the island of Pag in Croatia. Sirana Gligora produces cheese in a generations old traditional way, from the milk of autochthonous sheep that live freely on the islands’ pastures, surrounded by aromatic herbs and breathing in the seawind which also deposits sea salt on the pastures. This ensures the produced cheeses to possess a unique scent and taste, enhanced by Pag’s salted aromatic herbs. Besides the original Paški sir (cheese), Sirana Gligora also produces a small variety of other cheeses, such as goat cheese from milk from Dalmatian goats, as well as cheese from a mixture of cows’ milk from cows from the Dalmatian hinterland with sheep cheese.
I got cheese to sample My Way .
The Trapist Kolan, a flavourful cheese, is for me the mildest of the cheeses I got from Sirana Gligora (unfortunately skuta was not possible to sample in Amsterdam right now, but skuta is actually the mildest of all. Skuta is comparable to ricotta, it’s beautiful fresh cheese and I would make-or at least attempt to make- amazing Croatian pancakes from the oven with that ). It’s perfectly accompanied by a simple homemade Indonesian Sambal Ulek. For me anything is perfectly accompanied by Sambal ulek ;) , but the flavor of this cheese gets an extra beautiful flavour touch with it.
The way I make a Sambal Ulek is supersimple;
- Cut 10 (or how many you have in the fridge, then just adapt the amounts to flavour.) fresh spicy red or green chilli peppers with seeds in rings if you like it HOT,
- Slice the peppers in length, take out the seeds and then slice them if you want it mild.
- Don’t forget to put on gloves! Especially if you have children or pets around, be careful! I never wear the gloves, I’m stubborn and try to use fork and knife but this is not as handy as gloves, so I have gotten spiciness in my eyes more than once.
- Place the peppers in a stone mortar or grinder, add a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of sugar and grind until everything becomes a paste.
- Stir well and add a teaspoon of good vinegar, for example Japanese rice vinegar, Croatian wine vinegar, homemade apple vinegar, whatever (but not balsamico) good vinegar you have around, if you have no vinegar in the house, some lemon juice will do.
- Add a teaspoon of sunflower oil and stir.
- Store for maximum two weeks in a clean glass jar with lid in the fridge.
Oh yeah, you don’t have such a beautiful Indonesian stone mortar or grinder? You can use a blender (or a staafmixer for the Dutch) if there’s no other way.
I served the Trapist Kolan cut in slices with a Dutch cheese cutter (I’m a huge fan of the Dutch cheese cutter, I’ve never seen it abroad and it’s sooooo handy!) with a Brinove rakija, (comparable to a very good Dutch Jenever, the French Genevièvre, a juniper brandy), an excellent choice.
The rosemary cheese is a strong and spicy cheese, the herbs already complement the cheese beautifully. The structure of the cheese does not allow it to be cut with a Dutch cheesecutter, it crumbles. I sprinkled some dried chilli seeds over the cheese and then poured some excellent virgin Pendolino Istrian olive oil over it. My dried chilli seeds are from Gran Canaria and very, very spicy, the Dutch ones or Croatian ones would be less spicy and allow you to taste the cheese better. Great with some dry crackers or bread.
The Kozlar cheese is semi-firm and is a good goat cheese. What I imagined is true; it makes an unbelievable combination with an exotic spicy sour sweet chutney, such as a spicy Indian mango chutney. I have never made a chutney myself before yet (this one came from a jar), but I’ll let you know when I do.
Sir s tartufima (cheese with black truffels) pairs perfectly with a homemade bread, to which some dried chilli have been added to the dough.
The original Paški sir is a perfect substitute for Parmesan cheese. It’s excellent with a good pasta, such as spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino. I needed a much smaller quantity than what I’m used to because the cheese is so tasty and strong.
Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino ; Simple, filling, yet light. Anyone can cook this, in my house it’s a favourite when lazy or when there are not many ingredients in the house. Here’s the (for 2) recipe MY Way.
- 200g spaghetti (mind you, I don’t weigh my pasta, I guess, but I’m trying to give you some measurements)
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (or more!) dried red chilly flakes to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flatleaf parsley
- salt and freshly grinded black pepper to taste
- Finely chop the aglio and then warm the olio until it’s hot enough to add the garlic. Make sure the oil is not too hot, this will make your garlic burn!
- Cook your pasta al dente in (enough!) salted water.
- In a saucepan, cook the garlic and olive oil on low heat. Don’t let the garlic get brown, it has to stay golden. Add the chilli., some salt and freshly grinded pepper
- When the pasta is ready, add it to the olive oil, garlic and chilli mixture.
- Serve on plates and grate the Paški sir over the plates. Decorate with the parsley.
The Zigljen cheese I tried pure. Gorgeous. I just simply felt like having a good piece of cheese and I was once again, not disappointed.
As a final test we cut the rosemary cheese, Trapist Kolan, Paški sir and some average Dutch cheese, made a pizza dough with some oregano picked on the island of Cres in Croatia, dried by the sea air, some amazing olive oil (yes, the virgin Istrian Pendolino again), some garlic & onion, and made a pizza (yes, without the tomato). The pizza had a thin crust and I don’t need to explain you that the combinations of these flavours were amazing, right? The cheese with rosemary seems like made for a pizza. The cheese I liked least on the pizza was the Kolan, it became slightly chewy. BUT all cheeses were still there, besides the Dutch one. We put a lot of Dutch cheese and little Croatian cheese, yet the ruling flavours were those of real cheese, with a touch of garlic and onion and herbs. I could only guess that the Dutch cheese is not made in an as natural way as the Paški sir….
I didn’t only come to conclusions of Sirana Gligora’s Paški sir, but also about spices and my love for them. The Surinam Madame Jeanette, is better eaten cooked than raw. Even for a lover of anything spicy, it’s too spicy. I prefer my Madame Jeanette in a tropical soup or a Surinam brown bean stew. I’ve tried it with some different cheeses but it’s not recommendable.
I’ve also made some random Amsterdam people try some of the cheese, all reactions were extremely positive, they all loved Sirana Gligora’s cheeses, like I do. The best comment I got when I asked about opinions was;
“This tastes like REAL cheese”. Well that’s exactly what I thought.
Sirana Gligora’s Paški sir is for sale in stores all over Croatia, as well as in London, The UK. Hopefully this year in Amsterdam, The Netherlands too. I’ll keep you updated about that. More info; http://www.sirena.hr/en/dairy-gligora-s1.htm