Croatia has some of its food products protected at both a national and European level, their status designated by their unique place of origin. The cheese known as Bjelovarski kvargl is just one of them.
Lying to the east of Croatia's capital, Zagreb, the town of Bjelovar is situated in lands just before the natural border of Slavonia's flatlands begin. Within its county, Bjelovar-Bilogora, are several ranges of small hills on which some of Croatia's best cows graze.
Outside the wider county's beef production, the town of Bjelovar is notable for many small agricultural growers and independent producers. It is also home to a craft brewery called Zeppelin who make really amazing beer. One of the town's longest-produced specialities is cheese and its quality is renowned across Croatia.
Highly distinctive in appearance, like an orange-coloured, coned-shaped Christmas decoration, Bjelovarski kvargl is a soft cheese made from cow's milk. The fresh cheese is mixed with salt, sometimes garlic, but always the paprika which grants its colour. It is then set into its distinctive shape, which is always done by hand, before being smoked which not only adds a wonderful flavour, but also helps to preserve it.
After smoking, it is always left to cool naturally before anyone can tuck in. The end product is significantly more dry, firm and dense than when the cheese is fresh. It's great alongside sliced meats, with homemade bread and served with a sharp glass of local white wine.
Click here to find out what European recognition does for Croatian produce and see all of Croatia's best delicacies which are protected