It was finally time to head off to the island of Pag; the island that everyone told me looked like the moon, had delicious cheese and salt, and had a beach party that never stopped. All of those things sounded good to me and I couldn’t have been more excited.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Pag from Rijeka is by taking the ferry. It only costs 80 kuna and lands directly in the city center of Novalja, the main town on Pag. The ferry left Rijeka at 5pm and landed in Novalja at 7:40pm (check for times as they vary throughout the year).
Before leaving for the cheese factory the following morning, we decided to go to a nearby bakery for breakfast. When we arrived at Sirana Gligora, I instantly realized that we shouldn’t have had breakfast. They offered us coffee, snacks, bread, olive oil (which was incredible) and a plate full of different cheeses as soon as we arrived. We were advised that we start out with the fresh and mild cheese and then move to the more old and aromatic ones. Come hungry (leave full)!
The lady helping us was named Ružica Gligora. She is the tourism service manager and is also married to the owner’s son. She spoke great English and was extremely informative.
Ružica gave us an introduction on Paški Sir and what made it so special. The cheese is made from the milk of the small but sturdy sheep that are indigenous to the island. They have flourished on special aromatic wild herbs such as Dalmatian sage. Also, the strong winter winds called Bura, that brings salts from the surrounding sea into the pastures, adds a distinctive taste to the cheese.
My favorite part was standing in a room full of moldy cheese – beautiful, wonderful, moldy cheese.
The sheep are milked twice a day (at 5 am and 5 pm) for only the first six months of the year; which means that Paški Sir is only made in the first half of the year. The sheep roam around outdoors and are also milked outdoors. Ružica explained that the sheep do most of their exercising when it’s cooler, in the evenings, and sit under the shade, behind the stone walls, during the day; this explained why we weren’t able to spot them during our drive.
The regular Paški Sir (which literally means Cheese from Pag) is aged for 3-4 months. The older Paški Sir, which is more orange in color, is aged for more than one year.
After eating the snacks she provided and learning about the cheese factory, we had to get “suited up” in order take the tour. The cheese factory tour took us through the process of making the cheese. My favorite part was standing in a room full of moldy cheese – beautiful, wonderful, moldy cheese.
At the end we took off our “suit” and sat back down at our table to finish our cheese and drink some wine. Lucky, for us when we finished our wine, we still weren’t finished at the cheese factory. In addition to the factory, there is an excellent gift shop that is filled with wine, cheese, and local goods. I purchased some beautiful wood items made from local olive oil trees.
Written by Guest Bloggers Tanya Lingle and La Baik
Blog Cover photo credit: Gligora