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Poland: Masuria, a haven for cheese makers who fled the cities

The sheep are in the meadow, the cheeses, in a maturation room on the ground floor, while in the attic-living room a cascade of harmonious sounds flows from an old piano: Mazury, known for its large lakes, is also the homeland of ex-Polish city cheese makers.

Poland, a country with a great agricultural tradition, is already a European superpower with regard to the production of poultry or apples. Will it be one day for farm cheeses?

– "Make sheep" –

"There are around a thousand cheesemakers and every week I discover two or three new ones starting up," food critic Gieno Mientkiewicz, a big cheese lover, told hooly News. They are often, he adds, "cultivated city dwellers who have left interesting positions in big companies to seek silence, greenery and a different way of life". A current recalling France after May 68, when hippie communities had dreamed of "making sheep in the Causses".

The story of Rancho Frontiera owner in Warpuny, Ruslan Kozynko, provides an example.

Originally from Ukraine, this classical pianist, composer and mountaineer lived in the big city of Poznan. His wife, Sylwia Szlandrowicz, studied agriculture.

When they decide to make their bucolic dream come true, about 20 years ago, and acquire a ruined farm of 17 hectares, they start by setting up a riding school. But this one does not bring much and they turn to cheeses.

"We did not take a vacation for almost 15 years before reaching a certain standard of living and comfort," said Kozynko.

Their cows are Jersey, originally from the British island of Jersey. Quite small, with tawny hair, shaded with brown and gray, they give very fatty milk "with an exceptional taste".

"In Europe there are less and less naturally rich herbs and I think this is one of the reasons why our cheeses are so popular with the Poles but sometimes also with the Italians, the French or the Spaniards", boasts Sylwia Szlandrowicz.

The sheep are Friesian, one of the best dairy breeds in the world from East Frisia, in northern Germany.

“We make fresh sheep cheese, and a ripened cheese with a powerful flavor called Mazurian. It’s a hand-made farm cheese, while the Italian pecorino, which it looks like, is an industrial product, "says Sylwia Szlandrowicz. A blue completes the range.

With jersiaise milk, they produce, among other things, a cheese reminiscent of parmesan, called Dzersejan, and a Blue Jersey.

The story of another farm in the region, "Nad Arem", which specializes in goat cheeses, is part of the same trend.

An entrepreneur, Helena Wroblewska, started out in the early 90s making sweaters in Olsztyn, the largest city in Masuria. Exhausted by Asian competition, she sees a meadow by a lake in Kierzliny and decides that "this is her place on Earth," she says.

She buys a farm in poor condition, renovates it, begins to raise goats, just for her. These multiply like rabbits, she does not know what to do with hundreds of liters of their milk.

– Three hundred goats –

"It was up to you, the goat milk powder or the cheeses." These will be the cheeses. The attraction of country life is strong enough for one of her daughters, Izabela, a psychologist by trade, to join her and give new impetus to farming.

Today, in a huge meadow, some three hundred goats – mostly Alpine – are frolicking happily. The farm operates over 50 hectares of pasture and produces some ten tonnes of cheese per year.

"Now I make cheeses that take two years to mature. And also brined cheeses, to which we add herbs: black cumin, bear's garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fenugreek, coriander, nettle, mint, "lists Izabela.

Polish artisan cheese makers have no trouble selling their produce near their homes. Therefore "they are not yet attacking the European market, fearing bureaucracy," says Mientkiewicz.

hooly News