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The 'King of Cheeses'

A semi-hard, granular cow's milk cheese with an unusual white crumbly texture that has been compared to shortbread. It has occasional blue veins (erborinato), and a pleasant earthy tang. Occasionally sheep's or goat's milk is added.

Castelmagno was first made in the early Middle Ages exclusively in the high altitudes of the Grana valley west of Cuneo. It was so precious that it was used as money to pay taxes or in exchange for grazing rights. Today the DOP area covers the communes of Castelmagno, Pradleves and Monterosso Grana. The exceptionally fragrant Castelmagno d'alpeggio, made over 1600m, is in the Ark of Taste.

Castelmagno is very versatile. It can be eaten on its own (it pairs well with Piedmont's Nebbiolo wine) or with honey, or melted in a fondue, or in gnocchi; the Piedmontese use it as a grating cheese on homemade pasta or risotti.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Marco Plassio, Boutega Ousitana