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July 30, 2011


We’ve had relatives visiting from Slovakia this summer, and they came laden with gifts.  Above, smuggled through airport security was korbáčiky, my favorite salty sheep’s cheese that comes in long rolls of string.  There are two varieties – smoked and un-smoked; this is the latter.  The cheese is still sold today by shepherds along the roadside.

300 sheep live at Chalet Krajinka. You can see the shepherd's hut, watch traditional cheese making and eat in the restaurant.

There is a Slovak joke about how this cheese is made: first, you dunk the ball of freshly made sheep cheese in hot water, and then pull it apart into two pieces.  Then you spit into your hands, and roll each piece on your thighs, into thin strings (this is supposed to gross people out, which it usually does).  It’s funnier told in person with hand animations, and I’m told even funnier in Slovak.

Fresh sheep cheese soaked in hot water, spun into string cheese

I was lucky enough to see this cheese made the traditional way at the Chalet Krajinka near Ruzomberok in the Lower Liptov region of Slovakia, and you do indeed dip the sheep’s milk in hot water before rolling it.

Braiding Korbáčiky

Korbáčiky is also often braided, and it was amazing to watch the women braid and twist at lightning speed.

The finished product

Some people find Korbáčiky too salty – soaking it in hot water before eating it helps cut the salt. And placing it in boiling water for 10 or 20 seconds melts it back into a ball.  Korbáčiky is best eaten fresh, but if you want to keep it a while and savor it slowly, like I must with my illicit gift, then freeze it and cut off chunks as needed.  Mailing it via postal service to yourself from Slovakia is not a good idea, as my travel partner discovered when the stinky package arrived a month later.

My relatives sampling the finished product

Most of these pictures were taken by Lily Shuster, my favorite travel partner, cheese mailer and aunt extraordinaire.  Aunt Lily, I didn’t even tell you Josef brought this cheese on his visit. But I’ve had my fill and your brother Jerry has the remains in his possession.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicholas Harmon permalink
    July 30, 2011 11:16 pm

    How did it occur that the announcement of this wonderful Slovak gift only occurred after I had departed Canada and had no opportunity to savor the delicious wonder that you described so elegantly?

  2. Lily permalink
    July 31, 2011 3:45 pm

    I have to agree with Nick! How dare you withhold such critical info? But the bigger question is…… will your dad share this wonderful treat?

    Aside from my concerns, your latest blog brought back wonderful memories of our time in Dulny Kubin. Need to plan our next trip back.

    Aunt Lily

  3. Zelka permalink
    September 12, 2011 8:32 am

    Thank you for sharing about korbaciky. I had the pleasure of trying this cheese when I visited Slovakia in 2006 and actually thought it was spaghetti, lol. When I tried it, I fell in love with it. I thought it had a rather nice flavour and texture. We visited the local supermarket in Bratislava and just had to buy some. It did not last for long, too good to bring home.

  4. Azodariana permalink
    January 29, 2012 4:03 pm

    oooou korbáčiky.. I love them 😀 you ve got great blog 😉

  5. Stephen permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:07 pm

    Pauline, do you know anyone that ships or is capable of shipping wholesale amounts of Korbaciky to the United States?

    • April 30, 2012 8:25 pm

      I bet I could find someone. I visited a dairy manufacturer in Slovakia who made bricks of the cheese that is turned into Korbaciky. Would you like me to ask?

      • May 10, 2012 10:25 am

        That would be awesome!
        I put my email address in the details.
        Thanks! 🙂

  6. Richard Miller permalink
    February 9, 2015 4:25 pm

    Can this cheese be ordered online in the USA?

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