The history of using alpine pastures for cheese making in Val d’Ossola has been known since before the first century. The mountains of this area, even at very high altitudes, have wide, sheltered pastures for the animals and it is this characteristic that the local alpine shepherds have turned to good account in creating excellent cheeses throughout the centuries.
The most famous alpine cheese in the Ossola area is the Bettelmatt, in the high Val Formazza, in the northern part of Ossola, but equal fame has spread to those in Toggia, Kastel, Sangiatto, Lago Vannino, Alpe Forno and Poiala – all situated at over two thousand meters and all in the Val Formazza. They have a very limited production of only a few hundred cheese wheels every year. These are all made during July and August and used to be brought down to the valleys by mules but, more recently, they make the trip down in helicopters. Since the summer season of 2003, in order to distinguish them from their numerous and widespread counterfeits, the alpine Toma from Bettelmatt have been fire branded with their name.
Serving Suggestions: Full-bodied red wines. Aromatic honey. Fresh fruit (Passacrassana pears). Black rye bread and polenta.
Aspect and texture: intense yellow, compact with varying sized holes
Ripening: at least 60 days
Production Period: summer
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