WHAT IS CASTELMAGNO?
This mixed milk blue cheese dates back to the 12th century. Back then it was used as a form of payment by farmers to work their land. A spicy, pungent formaggio, this is due in part to its’ washed rind. Castelmagno tends to be mostly cow’s milk with a dash of sheep and / or goat’s milk thrown in (no more then 20%). Depending on the quantities of milk from each breed, Castelmagno ranges from a porcelain white to an orange-ish yellow. A natural rind cheese, raw Piedmontese cow milk (from over 8 different breeds) is exclusively used under its’ traditional product of designated origin status. Though pasteurized milk is also used for non P.D.O. cheeses (aka export). Aged for 2 to 5 months, this is a dense, crumbly blue cheese with lots of flavor.
WHERE IS CASTELMAGNO MADE?
This Piedmontese formaggio is made in the areas of Castelmagno, Pradleves and Monterosso Grana. Piemont is famous for its’ wine, truffles and Nutella factory. Being in the very northwest tip of Italy at the foot of the Alps, Piedmont borders both France and Switzerland. Its’ diverse countryside and proximity to foreign influences has resulted in a rich blend of food, drink and Castelmagno cheese! Cheese made at an elevation of over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level also will bear a “Mountain Product” sticker in Italian as well.
WHY DOESN’T MY BLUE CHEESE HAVE ANY BLUE?
Production of this cheese doesn’t require it to be pierced with needles. Blue mold spores are instead introduced into the milk itself. But without enough air, the blue mold sometimes doesn’t take root and spread throughout the cheese creating “veins.” So it isn’t unusual for this Piedmont delicacy to have little or no blue veining.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH CASTELMAGNO?
Castelmagno works well as a grating cheese. I’d suggest melting this formaggio over a nice pasta dish instead using it on a cheese tour. If served on a cheese plate, however, I’d suggest pairing Castelmagno with a nice honey or not too sweet fig preserve. In terms of wines, try reds from the same region like Barolo. Though if the cheese is already being paired with a honey this won’t work as well.