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Italian cuisine is famous for pasta, wine, olive oil and knee-bending desserts and pastries. The Mediterranean diet has been adopted around the world. Cheeses like Gorgonzola and Ricotta have hit our tables, but there are lots of cheeses that are yet to be discovered and exported.
Not just Lake Fish
The cuisine here at Lake Como is mostly made up of freshwater fish dishes. Lavarello, Misultin, and Perch served with risotto or polenta.
Surprisingly though, wine and olive oil are also produced locally. As are meats and cheeses. Not just any cheese, the region has its own specialties that you can only find here.
There are pastures in hills above Lecco, Bellagio, Varenna and further north in the valley of Valtellina.
Although in winter, it may snow, the area is protected from cold winds by the slopes of the pre-alps and shaded from the hot sun in summer leaving a tolerable temperature all year round. Livestock and plant life thrive in the moderate climate.
Italian Cheeses of Lombardia
I recently did the Bellagio Bike and Eat Tour experience managed by Lake Como Food Tours. Apart from an amazing day trip to Bellagio, good exercise and a scenic tour of the area, we also got the chance to try some the local cheeses.
Bormino – made from whole milk, Bormino is a soft, white cheese, slightly resembling Brie but with a delicate flavor.
Magro di Bellagio – made with skimmed milk and matured for 25 days, Magro di Bellagio is a hard, yellow cheese perfect with honey or made with polenta.
Casera – also made with skimmed milk, but matured for 70 days. Casera is also a hard, yellow cheese and is a specialty of the Sondrio a province in Valtellina.
Capra con Peperoncino di Asso – Asso is a small village above Bellagio. Capra con Peperoncino is a soft, white goat cheese with hot pepper added to the naturally extracted curd.
Bitto – also from the Sondrio province, Bitto is made with whole milk and no more than 10% goat’s milk. Made only during the summer months from June to September. Bitto is matured for 70 days. Prestigious wheels of Bitto are kept and aged up to ten years. I have even heard of a cheese bank where people keep wheels of Bitto, saving it for special occasions. (Note to self: I must visit the Bitto Bank!)
Served with fresh, homemade bread and a glass of wine – it’s a perfect way to spoil yourself!