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Blessed are the cheesemakers: dinarski

Categories: Product stories

A hard and savoury goat’s and cow’s milk cheese from an island in the Adriatic

“It’s made by one of the best dairies in Croatia,” says Chris Stewart of Taste Croatia, holding up a thick wedge of dinarski. Now in its third generation, the Gligora Dairy behind this award-winning cheese is based on Pag island, just off the coast of Croatia, famous for its wild music festivals—and its long tradition in cheesemaking.

The cheese was initially made solely from the milk of native goats, bred outdoors by small farmers across the Dinaric mountains in the south of the country—but in 2010, a shortage of goat’s milk encouraged head cheesemaker Šime Gligora to make up the shortfall with fresh cow’s milk, also outdoor reared, to create a mixed milk cheese: creamy, but with a goaty kick.  

The result was so successful that the following year dinarski won silver at the Global Cheese Awards and in 2013, was awarded a super gold medal in the same category: no small feat for a small dairy adrift in the Adriatic Sea.

Deep and savoury
It looks like pecorino: hard, candle-yellow and granular, so that on first bite the taste seems almost indistinguishable. Then, as the flavour grows and lingers, something new, deep and savoury comes in. The mixed cow and goat’s milk adds layers of complexity beyond that which we associate with the hard Italian cheese.

Matured for nine months, “it’s similar in texture to a pecorino but with a creamy goat’s finish to the palate,” continues Chris. “We serve it to customers with fig chutney, which works very well, even though chutney is more of an English thing than Croatian. We like to get the customers a bit messy,” he grins, smearing the bruised purple jam on a sample slice of cheese. It also pairs well with wine, particularly the native wines—another product for which this veritable pantry of a country deserves more acclaim.

In conclusion, it’s versatile. Though noticeably different from pecorino, there’s nothing to stop you grating dinarski on your pasta, or serving ‘a l’Italia’ with a drizzle of syrupy vinegar—though naturally, we recommend you swap your balsamic for Croatia’s fig vinegar. For the true taste of Croatia, though (and what wouldn’t we give for some Mediterranean rays right now?), serve it on a board, drizzled with olive oil, alongside some of Chris’s excellent charcuterie.