Montasio Cheese, An Italian Tradition in Friuli
Montasio cheese gets its name from the Jôf di Montasio, a 2,752 meter rocky peak in the Julian Alps of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Among types of Italian cheese, the history of Montasio dates back to the thirteenth century, when Benedictine monks living in the valley below it began producing this cheese as a way of conserving fresh milk.
The first historical record of Montasio cheese on the Italian food map can be found in the small gastronomic paradise of San Daniele in 1775. It is worthy to note that even then it was appreciated, and commanded a signor price. A consortium protecting Montasio production methods and heritage was set up in 1984, and in 1996 it was awarded the selective DOP label. Today, the area in which it can be produced is strictly delineated in Friuli and the eastern Veneto (Treviso and Belluno), in addition to some areas of the provinces of Venice and Padova.
With an aging period of eight weeks, Montasio cheese has a delicate flavor similar to latte fresco. The Mezzano variety is aged for over four months and has much more pronounced notes. After the tenth month Montasio cheese takes on increasingly an aromatic and slightly spicy character. At a year and a half, it becomes ideal for grating.