Have you noticed how very often food and travel come together? Do you think local food tasting is a big and important part in every journey to a new place?
Do you love cheese? If you answered yes to those questions, then read on.
There are only three regions worldwide that can grow cheese mold naturally – The Basque country in Spain, where the Idiazabal cheese is produced, Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in France, where the infamous Rockford cheese is produced and the village of Cherni Vit near Teteven in Bulgaria.
Only in those three regions the mold that gives the cheeses their specific taste and smell grows naturally and is not artificially added to the cheese later on during the aging process. All other famous molded cheeses as Stilton, Gorgonzola and many others add the mold artificially during the aging process.
This story is about the green cheese of Cherni Vit.
The small but beautiful village of Cherni Vit is situated in the Teteven region of Stara Planina mountain in Bulgaria. The whole region is famous for its production of milk and milk products like cheese. A big part of the region’s income comes from animal husbandry. A lot of cows, sheep and goats are raised here. Their first quality milk is the main raw material for the production of the so called “Green cheese”.
The name of the cheese comes from the specific color of the mold that forms on the outside of the cheese wheel during the process of aging. As was already said, the mold forms naturally, due to the specifics of the mild climate in the region. The moisture that forms because of the drastic differences between day and night temperatures during the process of aging is to blame for the formation of the mold.
The green cheese can be made from all types of milk, but it is mainly made from sheep milk. There are different types of green cheese, depending not only on the type of milk used for its production but also on the duration of the aging process.
The green cheese despite its name is a kind of hard yellow cheese with a strong and specific taste and smell. It goes well both with red and white wines. Combining it with different sweet fruits like grapes and pears makes the taste of the cheese even stronger.
Tasting this unique cheese is a very good reason for visiting the village of Cherni Vit. But have in mind that it is not possible to find it all year long. Before going there it is wise to visit the website:
Unfortunately, the site is still only in Bulgarian.
The perfect place to stay is the hotel by the same name as the village, Cherni Vit. Its website is, fortunately, in English.
The cheese tasting can be done in the yard of the hotel itself. You can also watch a demonstration of the production process and also taste some nice local recipes with the cheese itself in the restaurant. You can also buy a piece of the green cheese for you to take home.
The village Cherni Vit is a good starting point for exploring the picturesque region of the Stara Planina mountain. The closest big town, some 15 kilometers away, is Teteven, a typical small Balkan town, where you can have a walk along the beautiful river of Vit and enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountain that surrounds the town from all sides. Each Saturday the town holds a food market where local producers sell their own goods. You can find home grown nuts, fruits and vegetables, honey, and different types of preserves and jams.
You can take a hike to the Skoka waterfall (its name means The Jump). The waterfall is one of the highest in Bulgaria, and is better to be visited during spring, when the waters are high. It is situated very near to the town of Teteven.
Another interesting place nearby is the Ribaritsa mountain resort. Situated some 15 kilometers away from the town of Teteven, it is one of the oldest resorts in Bulgaria. The mountain is especially beautiful and majestic in this region.
On your way back from Ribaritsa to Cherni Vit village, take a small break in the Fedora hotel, situated right beside the road just a few hundred meters before the town of Teteven. Drink a coffee and taste the wonderful homemade cakes they offer (the tiramisu is perfect, although it is not at all a typical Bulgarian sweet). The terrace of the hotel restaurant is right above the waters of the Vit river, making it a wonderful place to relax, enjoy the sunshine and take a few pictures of the magnificent views that surround this place.
The village of Cherni Vit is only an hour car ride away from the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, and is definitely worth a visit.