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Formaggio di fossa

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FORMAGGIO DI FOSSA CHEESE

Produced only in the Rubicone and Marecchia valleys, on the border between Romagna and Marche, this is a sheep’s milk or mixed cheese left to mature for about three months “in holes in the ground”.fossa6

These “holes” (fosse) are in fact underground cellars dug out of the tufa rock. They are of medieval origin, generally flask-shaped, about three metres deep and two metres across.

At Sogliano, the custom of “burying” cheese has been practised for hun­dreds of years. In August the “fosse” are opened and lined with straw, canes and wood to accommodate the cheeses wrapped in white canvas bags, piled one on top of the other as far as the opening, which is sealed with gypsum and slabs until the cellars are reopened in November, when the cheese will have finally reacquired all its flavour.mondaino-formaggio-di-fossa-01

The microclimate of the cellars gives the cheese a very special taste and fragrance, with bitterish veins and hints of undergrowth, mushroom and truffle. The shape of the chees­es tends to be irregular due to the pressure of the cellar; the rind is often hard to tell from the cheese, which is compact and flaky with an amber/white or slight straw yellow colour.

This product is highly digest­ible, which makes it even more inestimable. It is a meditation cheese to be eaten a little at a time and chewed slowly, It is ideal with savor, saba, honey, fruit jam, caramelised figs, balsamic vinegar and perfect as an ingredient in Romagna pasta dishes.