If you enjoy exploring new places and tasting local delicacies, you will be pleased by our new blog post.
An important gastronomic figure in upper Soča valley is undoubtedly Bovec sheep cheese. It makes you fall in love with its full and intense aroma. What makes it so special? It is made out of whole, raw sheep’s milk (up to 20% cow’s or goat’s milk may be added) and this is why its aroma comprises all from pure meadow grass to enticing blossoms. Cheese production takes place in summer (roughly from June to September) which allows the sheep to eat fresh treasures from local meadows or even alpine pastures.
If you already visited upper Soča valley, you might have seen sheep during some of your hikes. Those were most likely local dairy breed, so-called Bovec sheep. It is them who provide the experienced cheese producers with whole milk, from which the renowned Bovec sheep cheese is made.
Its glory does not seem to cease. The European Commission awarded Bovec sheep cheese protected designation of origin, a renowned food label at the European level. But beware, also long ago, far before the time of protected origins, people were well aware of its worth.
Indeed, Bovec cheese represented a means of payment, as people from upper Soča valley used to buy other goods in exchange for cheese. My grandma remembers very well that in the early days her family did not eat the cheese, as their mother exchanged it for goods in Bohinj area. What they did consume, was ricotta, nowadays a very well-known and appreciated delicacy.
- Italian pricelist from Udine from 1756 included also Bovec sheep cheese and its price was among highest, as it is made out of whole milk.
- In the 14th century, people could buy the right to fish on Soča river by providing a sufficient amount of cheese.
- The first written mention of shepherds dwelling in Bovec area is Trebiščna above Trenta and it dates back to the 14th century. It is at that time that the cheese-making tradition was presumably born.
And what does the future hold for Bovec cheese? The several centuries-old tradition is passed from generation to generation. Cheese production (and in our case also milking) is entirely hand-made. You can find cheese at few alpine shepherds’ dwellings and in the valley. Given its renown and worth, it is no wonder that the stock at those rare, but persistent cheese masters quickly disappears.
Have you heard the story about a wild man from Zajenca (Zadnjica, a side valley in Trenta, known as a starting point for Triglav or Kriški podi)? Once upon a time lived a wise, wild man in the valley of Zadnjica. His knowledge was tremendous and people from Trenta supposedly captured him and agreed to release him under one condition. He has to teach them how to make cheese. So he did. But when he was on the way back home, far enough, he turned and said: “But I did not tell you how good is what is left once the cheese is made!”
What he had in mind, check in our previous post.
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Fischione, Alojz, 1998: Sirarstvo na Tolminskem, Kobariškem in Bovškem. Ljubljana: Kmečki glas.
Local tradition and stories from my grandma