Sir i vrhnje (cottage cheese and smetana)

Sir i vrhnje (cottage cheese and smetana)

The cheese in question is freshly curdled, gently strained cow milk cheese, formed into round cakes of ½ kg or so, the quality of which greatly depends on the quality of grazing, which in this particular case is excellent. Although the Zagreb cluster is the centre of the sir i vrhnje tradition, this type of cheese is produced in many locations of this cluster, as well as in certain parts of Slavonia. It is sold exclusively in the markets.

 

Cottage cheese and smetana are eaten primarily completely fresh, and serving is simplicity itself: smetana is poured over cheese – one measure (a measure being an old one, amounting to c 1.5 dcl) of cheese to one or two measures of smetana, with a little salt and red paprika sprinkled over it. It is also traditional that the bread which is served with this simple dish is made from maize, with unleavened dough, and baked to produce a thick, crunchy crust. The bread is baked in large, round forms, sometimes weighing as much as 10 kg.

 

The most usual side dishes for cottage cheese and smetana are radishes and spring onions. The mixture is also used to make a variety of spreads, the taste depending on the ingredients: chopped spring onion and ground red paprika, sometimes garlic - especially when young, chives – particularly the wild-growing variety, dill, crab grass, thyme or marjoram. Well mixed fresh cheese and smetana make a delicious topping for broad, home-made noodles, often accompanied by a sprinkling of small pieces of fried bacon, and, according to taste, with garlic. In some parts of continental Croatia, in particular the Slavonian region, pasta prepared in this way is placed in a very hot oven in order to obtain a nice golden, crisp crust.