OPG Baljak - in the company of Lošinj lamb and goat cheese
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Tempting sausages, great cheeses, perfect prosciutto… it’s hard to imagine all of this being made on the island. And not on any island, but on Lošinj, an island that boasts of its fragrances that have no competition in the northern Adriatic! Among these fragrances is the farm of domestic animals by Jurica Baljko, who works miracles on the sparse island land between Mali Lošinj and the sea, in a family farm that has been operating for some fifteen years.
As we look out to the open sea from the olive groves, Jurica tells us about plans to improve the offer to every lover of meat and dairy products. He has a good opportunity for that because on his farm live about fifty sheep and about fifty goats, a dozen piglets, and that does not include chickens and border collies that put all that animal farm in order.
Little is known that until the 13th century no one lived on Lošinj, but the island was used for grazing cattle, mostly sheep. It was not until 1280 that Velo Selo was mentioned in the area of today's Veli Lošinj, where twelve Croatian families settled. They were also mostly engaged in cattle breeding, and this tradition is continued today by the Baljak family, originally from Dalmatia. They are one of the few families on the island of Lošinj that makes products from the island's goat and sheep, unlike the neighbouring island of Cres. In addition to island lamb and goat, a number of other products that we have tried ourselves are made here.
Goat cheese is certainly a popular product of the Baljak family farm. Salty and full of the taste of goat's milk, it is done on the farm itself, after daily milking of goats that live only a few steps away, in stables. During the day, they browse the surrounding rocky slopes that descend all the way to the sea, towards the beautiful beach of Porta Šešula. Not to mention how much this pasture gives aromas to the cheese as well as the goat's milk curd. Goats are naughty animals and because of that, they are regularly taken care of by a goat herder.
The sheep, in contrast to the goats, are timid and look at us tenderly from the barn. They are also waiting to be allowed to graze. Island lamb is the main product, and local patriotic debates decide on the nuances of the difference between Lošinj and Cres lamb. The whole Baljak family helps in this work, and the meat is also offered by the nearby Fragrant Island Garden, run by Jurica's wife's aunt.
Baljak is also visited because of the excellent pork bacon, whose relatives we visited ourselves. A dozen well-fattened pigs are a source of delicious cured meat products. Prosciutto enchants with its mildness and yet the consistency of taste, and there are also sausages and buđola. Pig farming on the island is dying out, prosciutto is mostly made from purchased pork, so OPG Baljak is a shining example of maintaining production from the field to the table.
Island game sausage is also special. The hunting societies of Cres and Lošinj take care of the regular supply of deer and wild boars that end up in aromatic sausage. As these are not indigenous animals on the islands, they do a lot of damage to farmers and ranchers, so the hunting season is regularly interesting. Hunters agree - island game sausage has a special taste because deer and wild boar feed on island plants and immortelle. Jurica tells us about a hunter who regularly says that he takes the game from the island of Lošinj home for himself because he is delighted with the tastes of it.
During the summer season, tourists can easily enjoy these products in butchers in Mali Lošinj and Nerezine, and for other lovers of Lošinj livestock products, it is best to visit the family farm Baljak in Mali Lošinj and enjoy its meat and dairy delicacies from the fragrant island!