There’s something about mountain cheese

Bottura, Ghezzi and Léveillé competed for the best cheese from Trentino in an auction in Val di Sole. The chef from Modena got the one with the lowest fat

12-09-2017

Massimo Bottura, Philippe Léveillé and Alfio Ghezzi participated in the third edition of Asta dei formaggi di malga the charity auction with cheese from Val di Sole and Trentino, on the 4th September at Castello Caldes in Val di Sole

The third edition of the  Asta dei formaggi di malga, the charity auction with cheese from Val di Sole and Trentino, took place last week at Castello Caldes in Val di Sole. They created this event in 2015 and this year they extended it to the entire autonomous province of Trento because raw milk cheese is a local excellence but it’s not exclusive. Twenty-two wheels were auctioned, with total proceedings of 7,020 euros. The lowest bid was 180 euros, the highest 520 for a Vezzena from Malga Postesina in Levico, Valsugana, 7 kilos and 100 grams from the summer of 2008. This wasn’t the wheel with the longest maturation. From Malga Villar di Malè there was a Nostrano cheese from 2007, awarded for 400 euros.

There were three exceptional guests: Alfio Ghezzi, the first chef in Trentino to get two Michelin stars at Locanda Margon, above Trento. Alfio comes from the Giudicarie area, between Garda, Val Rendena and Lake Idro. He sat next to Breton Philippe Léveillé, two stars at Miramonti l’Altro in Concesio (Brescia), and in order to raise his paddle he waited for wheel number 15 from Malga Stabolone Rolla in Valdaone, Giudicarie, which he got for 380 euros, an excellent price given it was the largest, 10.450 kilos.

A wheel of Nostrano cheese from Val di Sole matured 10 years

A wheel of Nostrano cheese from Val di Sole matured 10 years

Léveillé had already won the 12th, from Malga Tremenesca in Rabbi, 340 euros for little under seven kilos. Third chef in the audience, Massimo Bottura. Like his colleagues and some twenty more people, the chef from Modena had tasted five types of cheese before the auction, and was conquered by the second, a Nostrano magro – low fat. Today it is rare, but it was once the rule. They removed the cream from both batches because butter had a high commercial value. Now semi-fat cheese is the most popular: there’s less poverty and people use more olive oil, so one of the batches is untouched.

Cristian Stablum, 41, dairyman from Malga Caldesa Bassa above Val di Rabbi in Trentino

Cristian Stablum, 41, dairyman from Malga Caldesa Bassa above Val di Rabbi in Trentino

These days it’s easier to mature semi-fat cheese, but if the refiner, in this case Adriano Dalpez, a man of great culture and care, knows what he’s about, the low-fat is more pleasing to the palate. The sensory features of the milk are not overshadowed by the cream. Everyone was surprised by a low-fat cheese from 2016. Bottura first tried to get this, number three, sold for 280 euros, then waited for cheese number 17, 5.300 kilos, produced in 2014 at Malga Strino in Pellizzano. Final price 360 euros.

I’d like something Bottura said: «Raw milk is the truth, and refiners are essential. Having excellent milk and valuable dairymen is not enough. Once you place the wheels, you must know when it’s time and this isn’t the dairyman’s job».

The 8th auctioned wheel, made at Malga Cercen in 2014 in Val di Rabbi. Almost 7 kilos of raw-milk semi-fat cheese

The 8th auctioned wheel, made at Malga Cercen in 2014 in Val di Rabbi. Almost 7 kilos of raw-milk semi-fat cheese

Philippe Léveillé, 55, in Italy for the past 30 years also said: «I’m from Cancale in Brittany. My father farmed oysters and always said it was essential to know when the time was right to eat them. Not earlier than three, or even four years after you put them in the sea. You had to be patient. It’s the same with cheese. There are no shortcuts. I arrived at lake Iseo, at Vittorio Fusari’s in 1987. I consider it my home and the truth is: when I go abroad, and I have a starred restaurant in Hong Kong, I hear people praising our products and cuisine. Then here in Italy many people speak ill. It’s incredible how many opportunities are wasted through criticism. We have treasures, but we don’t exalt them». We’re Italian.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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