(In)famously tangy both in taste and smell, the unique mature cheese from Moravia, olomoucký tvarůžek is instantly recognizable by its light golden yellow hue and springy and sticky texture — atop of that tangy taste and smell of course. The fact that it commonly comes in the shape of a little disc or ring makes it even more memorable. Did I mention the unmistakable scent? Yes I did. Some say it’s awful, I say it’s awfully recognizable. The cheese is made from skim milk so it’s fatless. It’s nutrients-packed too.
When you bite it, you might think it’s like “quark with a bite to it” and you won’t be far from the truth as tvarůžky are in a certain sense that: pressed and ripened quark. The word tvarůžek is actually a diminutive of tvaroh – “quark” or “curd cheese” – so here you go. They are also known as “olomoucké syrečky”, where “syrečky” is a diminutive of “syr” or “cheese”.
Czechia (the country) consists of three historical lands: Bohemia (Czechia proper), Moravia and Silesia. In central Moravia there is an area called Haná (or Hanakia). It is here that olomoucké tvarůžky are made, a tradition of several centuries. Haná covers the whole of Olomoucký kraj (Olomouc Region), an administrative unit named after its seat and largest city, Olomouc, that gives name to our tiny yellow cheese discs as well.
The Museum of Olomoucké Tvarůžky is found in the small rural town of Loštice, where in 1876 the Wessels family started a factory that today is synonymous with the cheese.
If you follow my blog you know that I have a soft spot for food-related museums and I try to visit every possible one on the surface of the Earth. The one in Loštice is a real blast! It’s full of photos, infographics and recipes, there are some creative games and the rich collection of worthy artifacts includes ‘touch me’ objects. The history of the company is told in a comic book. There are several videos projected on separate screens. One is set in the 19th century; it surprises with quality costumes and period drama-like feel. Another is a short animated film about a young tvarůžek going to a “Cheese Academy” in France, where he meets cheddar, feta and others. Brilliant. And of course there are also factory videos that show you how the cheese is made and packaged, including interviews with workers and so on.
All descriptions in the museum are in Czech but you can scan QR codes to read them in English.
Loštice is a tiny little town with seemingly nothing to catch the eye of a tourist. Yet, a visit will be an occasion not only to check our quirky museum, but also a gastronomic adventure. Not only the factory shop, where you’ll find a cornucopia of local products and tvarůžky of different sizes, forms and flavors, but also the town’s restaurants and cafes are worth a look. You’ll find all things tvarůžky: fried cheese, cheese-stuffed potatoes, tvarůžky burgers, tvarůžky pastries, and even tvarůžky-flavored ice cream. If you dare.
As a side note let’s add that in the Middle Ages the area was known for Loštice goblets, a unique kind of pottery with knobby surface.