More traveling! This time to another end of Dalmatia: Pag island.
I got invited by the marketing manager of famous Gligora cheese factory of Kolan, Mr Simon Kerr, to stop by and discuss potential cooperation. They are interested in creating a unique cheese tour and offering it to travelers in this area. Although not as popular travel destination as Dubrovnik or Split, Zadar area is slowly making it on the map for more demanding travelers.
And for foodies, Pag island is THE destination in Croatia!
World class cheese, lamb, honey, salt, wines, herbs… soooo much potential!
So it did not take too much persuading to get me to Kolan.
When talking about cheeses of Croatia, Paški sir or the Cheese of Pag, is the first thing that comes to our mind as it has been a delicacy for generations. And while there are other extraordinary cheeses in Croatia, the cheese of Pag is usually considered to be the best of them all. In the past, only the government run Paška sirana factory has been known for putting this delicacy on the shelves but, in the last 20 years, Gligora Dairy appeared as the manufacturer of the best Pag cheese. And not only that, they are now officially the makers of the best sheep cheese in the world!
So it was quite exciting to get a tour of the place where the world’s best sheep cheese is made!
The first impression – Space ship technology mixed with ancient scents of cheese!
Simon took me around the factory to show me how the cheese is made, cured, stored, packaged and shipped. This is the regular tour for all the guests and, ideally, it is for small groups although they had groups of 90.
This is where they prepare skuta – fresh cheese similar to ricotta. If you have a chance to taste it (either buying it here or at the green market of Zadar) do not miss the opportunity to enjoy one of Croatia’s best kept food secrets. It is very seasonal so it can be found only when the sheep are milking: from early December onwards.
Next stop is the part of the factory where the cheese is getting it’s shape: it is packed in molds and pressed. Two workers are controlling the process but again, everything is state-of-the-art technology. Really impressive! Simon also told me that this factory, since it is so brand new, is the most technologically advanced cheese factory in Europe!
Then, after seeing some other parts of the factory where the cheese is getting it’s shape and form, we went bellow to the curing part of the factory located in the basement. This part is again, all computerized and controls the curing environment with great precision!
The cheese of Pag can only be made of the milk of local sheep and there is just so much milk. That is why it is important that they are getting the most out of the quantities available.
Next step is the packaging room.
It is great to see all the workers here being happy and quite proud of what they do!
Simon is originally from Manchester, England but married a local girl and decided to stay here. It is nice to see someone moving in instead of taking their family away… He worked on several positions in the factory so he is a perfect person to explain everything and to take guests on tours. He is now working hard on promoting the cheeses of Gligora Dairy and to get this amazing cheese on the tables across the world. Thanks to Croatian bureaucracy, the Gligora’s will have a very hard task despite all the awards and the existing interests!
The last stop of the tour is the store: cheese, ham, olive oil, wines… all local and all superb stuff!
So, the task now is to animate guests to take this special cheese tour. Also, like Simon suggested, it would be good to combine it with wine tasting at lovely Boškinac hotel in nearby Novalja.
But that’s another story and another road trip 😉
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