Delightfulness from home
Milk sheep products at Wolfgangsee
East Frisians feel at home at Lake Wolfgang: the Eisl family brought the milk sheep breed here thirty years ago. Today they are almost as famous as the Rössl from the shore opposite.
The Stoffbauerngut stands at the alluvial cone of the Zinkenbach. The powerful farmhouse has been doing so since 1490, as it says in the house chronicle. It is less than 100 metres from the farm of Sepp and Christine Eisl to the western shore of Lake Wolfgang, which has its narrowest point there. The pastures behind the scattered settlement are teeming with white dots. There, East Frisian dairy sheep doze in the midday sun - pride and livelihood of the 75-hectare farm.
The milk from the 140 animals is the raw material for Aberseer sheep cheese, for which the 100 percent certified organic Seegut Eisl has become famous. For thirty years, the woolly creatures have determined the fate of the farm. They are milked twice a day, and the cheese is pressed in the farm's own facility.
There was no dairy far and wide that would have bought the sheep's milk from us,
Sepp Eisl recalls. Today, the farm of the former agricultural councillor produces around six tonnes of organic sheep's cheese and 20,000 litres of ice cream from sheep's milk.
Prospect of enjoyment
You could envy them, the woolly creatures from Abersee, who spend their entire summer in front of the magnificent backdrop of the Zwölferhorn.
The reward of longsuffering
In a region traditionally dominated by cattle breeding, the road to becoming a sheep farmer was winding and long. "When I was seventeen, I bought two sheep instead of a moped," says Sepp Eisl. His father was ailing and the farm was anything but solvent at the time.
For the young farmer it was foreseeable that a few head of cattle would not carry the farm into the future. When he focused entirely on sheep breeding and the production of sheep milk products with direct sales in 1991, he struggled with hard times. "You quickly become a 'village crank'."
But the long-suffering did not go unrewarded. More and more customers recaptured their Mediterranean holiday feeling by reaching for the sheep's cheese from Abersee. Today, cheese, whey, yoghurt and ice cream from sheep have a permanent place in the refrigerators at home. When Christine Eisl calls for lunch, the whole room is buzzing. Then father, mother, one or the other of the seven children, the children-in-law, grandchildren, many of the ten employees and four to six interns gather at two large tables. The boss cooks for ten to twenty people every day. Before the meal, Sepp Eisl regularly says grace - and many a visitor sheepishly puts back the cutlery he has already drawn.
At the table is braised lamb, soft as butter and without any strong smell. "Cleanly processed meat doesn't "bump" any more than good sheep's cheese," Christine Eisl assures us. If you treat the milk meticulously clean and hygienically flawless throughout, you don't give the once feared aftertaste a chance. Dozens of prizes, awards and distinctions underline how seriously quality and hygiene are taken in the production of cheese "gupferl" (Aberseer) and rolls (Wolfgangseer) at Stoffbauer.
Sepp Eisl and his wife Christine have turned the Eisl lake estate entirely into a sheep farm. Today, 140 East Frisian milk sheep roam the lush pastures around the Eisl farm. Son Josef is responsible for the ice cream in the extended family.
Delightfulness from the farm
Sepp (centre), Christine and Josef Eisl junior in front of their Stoffbauerngut, where the fine Aberse sheep's cheese has been produced since the 1980s.
Eisl ice cream by mail
The company's latest creation: sheep's milk ice cream, which is also available in Eisl's own shop in Salzburg's Getreidegasse. Josef junior had been working on the idea of making ice cream from sheep's milk for one and a half years. He thought up, tried and rejected countless recipes until he was satisfied with the result. The Eisls developed an online shop for shipping ice cream: the delicacies are packed by hand in straw-insulated cool boxes. This way, the frozen treats can last up to thirty hours and the post office can deliver them on time. Of course: then it's good if the recipient is also at home.
TEXT: Josef Ruhaltinger, PHOTOS: Mirco Talierco
Text & photos have been published in Servus Salzkammergut Magazin 2021.