Friday, 11 October 2013

A taste of Tolminc cheese

During our last visit to river Soča valley in Slovenia we also climbed to the top of mount Krn (you can read more about that in our previous post). We started our hike at Planina Kuhinja near villages Krn and Vrsno pri Kobaridu, where we had a chance to taste some of their excellent milk products (Tolminc cheese, fresh cottage cheese and whey).

Everything we tasted was delicious but Tolminc cheese was the definite winner in my opinion. This top quality cheese is made from raw cow’s milk according to local traditional methods. It is also registered as Protected Designation of Origin. It tastes sweet and spicy.

Production procedure of this cheese is strictly regulated and should result in a final product with a specific set of characteristics.

To be sold under the name of Tolminc cheese (Sir Tolminc ZOP), cheese wheels have to weigh between 3.5 and 5 kilos, have a diameter between 23 and 27 centimetres and should be 8 to 9 centimetres high. Inside should be lentil or pea size eyes - that is what those holes are called. Cheese has to be produced out of fresh milk, that was milked from a local breed of brown coloured cows. Cows need to be fed grass and hay from the local area. During production milk also has to be heated to exact temperatures.

Cheese made at Planina Kuhinja has been awarded various prizes for excellency for many years in a row. With such reputation and relatively small production, they do not have any problems selling everything they produce. In fact, their cheese is so popular, they are barely able to age it beyond the 2 months.

Since I had a chance to try their cheese of different ages I have to say I liked the 6 months old the best. It does tend to get spicier and harder with every month it ages, but that is just what I like.

It is worth noting that when grazing season is over, cheese supply also runs out pretty quickly. Every year they drive down cattle from mountain pastures in autumn when temperatures drop and those shepherd's huts stay deserted through winter months.

So if you are thinking about stopping by and have a taste of their products, you should do it during summer or autumn months.

Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Ascent of mount Krn

Since I have been posting quite a bit about my climbing adventures lately, I decided to also post a few nice photos from our ascent of mount Krn in Slovenia (2244 metres). The ascent this time included quite a steep hike up the mountain side, but there was no actual climbing involved.

We started our day quite early at Planina Kuhinja, where morning cow milking was already in full swing. This is the place where the best of local Tolminc cheese is made. I will post more about that in one of the following posts.

The climb takes around 3 hours and during that time one has to overcome roughly 1250 metres of elevation in order to get to the top.
We left our car with the first morning light. As the sun rose over the top of surrounding mountains, weather looked quite promising. I succeeded in snapping a few nice photos in the morning light.

At first we followed a narrow road that took us through pastures with grazing cattle. Soon enough we switched to a path and almost at the same time the mountain side became a bit steeper. Terrain obviously got too steep for cows since they were replaced by sheep.

There were countless mountain flowers blooming by the path. Some of them would definitely fit perfectly into a herbal infusion mix.

As we were nearing the top of Krn, clouds started gathering and the view from the top was almost non existent. When we stopped for a refreshment at the mountain hut just below the top it got even worse. Considering the weather, we did not linger around for too long and started to descend back towards our starting point.

Half way down the weather cleared again and we could admire a group of parachute gliders enjoying in obviously good wind conditions. They were gaining altitude with ease.

Despite the not so perfect weather at the top, we were all glad we did the climb. When we got to the bottom again, we made a (not so short) stop at the cheese-makers for a taste of their cheese products and a shot of home-made schnapps. They were also happy to give us a tour of the place and an extensive explanation of the cheese-making procedures. More about that in our next post...

Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Slovenian bees at work

Clicking on the above photo will reveal it in a much more flattering resolution.

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