Ossola Valley cheese

One of the most famous dairy products made in Ossola Valley is Bettelmatt, baptised “cheese of the gods” by an internationally renowned food critic. It is produced in seven Alpine pastures in the Antigorio and Formazza valleys at an altitude of between 1800 and 2400 metres. Bettelmatt is produced in mid-summer, exclusively in mountain pastures at high altitude. This cheese truly elevates the great tradition of rearing Brown Swiss cows: made from a single milking, processed raw and whole twice a day, it is a triumph of unmistakable scents, aromas and flavours from the aromatic pastures of the Lepontine Alps.
Bettelmatt maturation can last from a few months to several years. However, the cheese’s scents and aromas do not reach their greatest intensity until after at least 90 days. Its golden yellow or straw colour, which turns brown and bronze with ageing and its intense, prolonged, deep, aromatic, yet never banal flavour, the result of the care with which it is produced and seasoned, make it one of the best-known and most popular dairy products in Italy.

Another characteristic cheese, which is produced only in Ossola Valley throughout the year, is Ossolano: a low-fat or full-fat cheese with a delicate, herby flavour that becomes more intense and lingering with age, used as a dish in its own right and to make traditional gnocchi made of potatoes, chestnut flour and pumpkin, or in stoneground polenta or with rye bread to form a traditional Ossolan snack.

In the Ossola Valley mountains, one of the traditional cheeses that is popular among gourmands is Grasso d’Alpe: like Bettelmatt, it is exclusively produced in mountain pastures using whole, raw milk and is hard to beat. It is made following ancient traditions that originate in particular from the Monscera Alpine pasture in Bognanco Valley. Other production areas include Alpe Cravariola, Alpe Burki in Macugnaga, the pastures of Bondolero and Veglia, the Alpine pastures of Vigezzo Valley and Isorno Valley and the high-altitude pastures of the Antrona Valley.
As its name, which loosely translates as “Fat of the Alps”, suggests, Grasso d’Alpe is a sweet, fatty, delicate cheese with a buttery flavour: it is produced using whole cow’s milk taken from a single milking, following the obligatory rhythm of the Alpine pasture, and is matured for around seventy days.

Local milk and cheeses, including mountain toma, ricotta (mascarpa or mascherpa grassa and mascarpin, naturally low-fat or smoked around the fireplace, are famous traditional ricottas in Ossola Valley) and Ossolan butter: these cow’s milk products are accompanied by a special choice of goat’s cheese, which testify to another great past livestock tradition, when goats were considered a “poor man’s cow”. Ricotta, toma and formagella cheeses made from different milk are also protected products thanks to CRAVER, the association of goat’s cheese producers and goat breeders in Verbano Cusio Ossola.
Ossola Valley is also historically linked to Alpine pasture or barn cheese made from mixed cow’s and goat’s milk. They were created due to the need to effectively use the diminishing supply of milk at the end of the Alpine pasture season or, in most cases, to replenish the fat in cow’s milk taken as cream to produce butter, which was once more profitable than cheese.
Today, these dairy products are appreciated for their unmistakable flavour and many of the best chefs in Italy use Ossola Valley cheeses in their menus: sure this is no coincidence?

Ideal for
Couples
Families with children
Everybody
You will discover
Culture, traditions and folklore
Not-to-be-missed
Food & wine and shopping
Ideal for
Couples
Families with children
Everybody
You will discover
Culture, traditions and folklore
Not-to-be-missed
Food & wine and shopping
IAT di Domodossola
Piazza Matteotti
28845 Domodossola (VB)
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