Trnič, the most romantic cheese

Trnič cheese. Photo: Klemen Brumec

Cheese making has a long tradition in Slovenia. It started first on the Alpine dairy-farms and later also in the valleys. The areas of Bovec, Tolmin, Bohinj and Velika Planina are particularly known for their cheeses. More and more Slovenian restaurants include traditional Slovenian cheeses on their innovative menus. This is particularly true of Trnič, which many consider the most romantic Slovenian cheese.

Dairy-farming families took up cheese making for purely practical reasons, so they would have enough food in the winter months. Milk had to be stored in this form to maintain its shelf life and to preserve important vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. 

For long-lasting love

Trnič is a pear-shaped hard cheese made in Velika, Mala and Gojška Planina in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps which resembles a female breast. It is made of cottage cheese, cream and salt and is embellished with special decorations. According to tradition, the shepherds gave Trnič to their wives and girlfriends at the end of the pasturing season in autumn as a sign of love and faithfulness, and also as a promise of marriage. 

Trnič was always presented in pairs - two were embellished with the same decorations. The shepherds kept one Trnič and gave the other one to their sweethearts, who kept them for several years. If the girl accepted the cheese, it meant that she consented to the shepherd’s courting. Trnič was thus an expression of a man’s love, desire and admiration of a girl and also their commitment to be faithful to each other.

Inclusion in Slovenian cuisine

Fresh Trnič may be grated and sprinkled onto risotto, porridge, pasta, soups and salads, added to meat and fish dishes or eaten on its own as a starter or dessert in the form of thin slices with honey or pepper, or drizzled with olive or pumpkin seed oil. Cheese slices may be baked with some butter.

As part of the Taste Kamnik project organised by TIC Kamnik, Trnič is already being included on the menu of many Slovenian restaurants. Gnocchi in spinach sauce with Trnič or Tuhinj trout, with herb polenta, and Trnič is on offer at the Majolka Inn in Kamnik, including chicken fillet with tomato, and Trnič and vegetable risotto for all lovers of chicken. Due to its special natural flavour, grated Trnič is perfect for varying the flavours of different dishes, even desserts. 

The Mili vrh Inn in Kamnik uses Trnič instead of Parmesan as an addition to dishes, and the Domžalski dom will pleasantly surprise you with their wild garlic soup with sour cream and Trnič. The family-run Pri planinskem orlu Inn in Stahovica is participating in the project because their village is located on the way to Velika Planina and their ancestors were shepherds. Their culinary specialities are stiskači (homemade stuffed pasta) prepared with chamois meat, buckwheat groats and porcini mushrooms or smoked pork neck with the addition of Trnič. They say their guests enjoy dishes with Trnič, which are particularly interesting for guests who like to taste local specialities. 

And Trnič cheese is undoubtedly a speciality because of its romantic story, symbolic shape and special flavour. 

Text by Tanja Glogovčan