If you wish to taste the genuine and authentic flavor of Slovak kitchen, then for sure you need to taste the bryndza! A typical cheese of our country, which presents a piece of our history, hospitality and a peculiar palate, originated from picturesque and fruitful pastures of Slovakia.
Bryndza is a phenomenon of admirably long tradition, with origins from XIV. century, when the Vlachs – pastors from Romania, were breeding sheep over here. (Also the word ´bryndza´ comes from the Romanian language, influenced by the culture of ancient Dacians). Untill then the sheep were bred on this territory exclusively for a meat. For the Vlach pastors, however, the sheep meant literally everything, they were the source of meat, wool and also milk. A sheep became a hugely important symbol of livelihood with multiple use of life then on this territory.
And it was right the ovine milk which succeded to conguer the hearts and palates of the local people, becoming a base of the national kitchen. In that time originated also bryndza – a cheese of a mellow mass, creamy and cloddish texture, with salty, savory and delicate flavor, accompanied by the typical delightful acidity.
How is produced genuine bryndza?
On the beginning there must be a good pasture. The production takes place in specialized cheese cellars. First step is to let the ovine milk clabber and consequently let it dry in the sheep-hut, obtaining a grainy cheese. Afterward it is washed with water and put in the vat to mature at the temperature between 8°C and 20°C for three-five days. At the right level of maturation, the cheese is very carefully cleansed, peeled of the dried coat and then pressed for the next two days, to let drain away the excessive liquid – ewe´s cheese, or ´srvátka´. The mass is squashed afterward and is grinded. The volume achieved is carefully processed until it becomes homogenous, adding, if necessary, a salt or salt brine. Consecutively it gets packaged, which is done hand-made or by machine.
Today very popular and required is namely bryndza of Liptov (region in north of Slovakia), where is packed in little wooden semi-cask. The first official manufactories for slovak bryndza, though, was the cheese-house of Ján Vagač in Detva (1787). The shepherds of the sheep-huts in neighborhood were selling him their ovine milk, of which Vagač succeeded to make bryndza of considerable quality, reputable also in the cities of Austro-Hungarian Empire: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest… An interesting story of this phenomenon had been written also by manufacture in Zvolenská Slatina, open in 1797 as second on the slovak territory, which operates also today.
At the beginning of XX century there were almost hundred of manufactories in Slovakia. A significant milestone of the production of our bryndza was accomplished by a certain Teodor Wallo of Zvolen,who was successful in inventing a method of production of cheese, which gave birth to bryndza even more creamy, paintable, but also more delicious, mild and sweet. Actually, this is kind of bryndza, produced today in Slovakia, which is distinguished among other product of the family – bryndza cheese from Romania, Poland, Moldavia or Ucraine. The secret of our bryndza is an additive of dilution of water and salt in the mass, but also unique and rich bacterial flora, present in the product of pastures of Carpathians, which makes our bryndza a fantastic natural source of probiotics.
Actually, it´s a real little miracle of nature, able to conserve within itself all the vital components of ovine milk, which makes it very beneficial for our health. It is helpful in improving digestive problems, allergies, diabetes, supports our immune and cardiovascular system, blood pressure, adjust cholesterol, works as a prevention against cancer. As an unique milk product, deriving from raw milk, slovak bryndza is called also the Slovak white gold. In july 2008 bryndza – our national treasure – recieved Protected Designation of Origin.
Bryndza cheese can be consumed buttered on bread, or can be used as an ingredient for a preparation of many plates, delivering them its typical taste and aroma, mainly various pastes: pagáčiky – oilcakes, doughnuts, dampers, sweet or salty pancakes, filled pastries… However, the most famous and notable meal flavored with this cheese are without doubts bryndzové halušky – a national slovak plate on the base of potatoes gnocchetti, flavoured with bryndza and toasted little pieces of lard. You can taste this delicacy in the typical slovak restaurants ´koliba´, furnished in historical style, or directly in traditional pastoral huts – ´salaš´ in the mountainous areas, where the pastors produce their dishes and selling to the tourists. The truth is, that byndzové halušky you either love or hate, that´s what they say. Maybe also for their typical flavor, a little bit harsh. Nevertheless, if you will find yourself in a typical Slovak ´koliba´, you should absolutely take a courage to taste right bryndzové halušky to become more familiar with the natural, raw and expressive sapor of our rich traditions.
We recommend: Liptovská izba – The room of Liptov – an exceptional restaurant, where are prepared dishes exclusively from their own fresh products, following the original recipes. The restaurant in the centre of Liptovský Mikuláš will captivate you with local exquisite ´bryndzové halušky´ and picturesque surroundings.
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