In a lease agreement signed at the end of the 14th century, discovered in the municipal records office of Pamparato (Cuneo), a local squire demanded payment in the form of “that good cheese made up there” by the herdsmen who “lead their cows to graze on the Raschera pastures”. The Raschera pasture-land extends for some 620 hectares and is now part of Magliano Alpi, a commune that owes the “Alpi” part of its name to the fact that in 1698 it acquired the Brignola, Seirasso and Raschera Alpine pasture-lands, which had previously belonged to the district of Mondovì. Raschera, a particular type of cheese named after the lake and pasture at the foot of Mount Mongioie, has been produced in these mountains around Mondovì since time immemorial.
Raschera cheese is produced in a wheel or rectangular block shape, although the latter gradually became the more popular of the two over the years. This was also because it was easier to transport. After being made in the summer it was loaded onto mules and carried down from the Mondovì pastures in the Maritime Alps to the cellars in the lowlands, where it would be sold. Nowadays 99 per cent of Raschera cheese is made in the block shape. An example of how this cheese has always been closely associated with the mountain region is the fact that, especially in rural areas, the type of cheese made in the mountains around Mondovì has always been called a “raschera”, while cheese made in the mountains, but in other valleys, is called “tuma di montagna”.
Raschera DOP, a typical and traditional product of the Mondovì district, can be produced and ripened in the administrative area of the province of Cuneo, as established in the Production Regulations.
Raschera DOP may bear the additional mention of “di Alpeggio” (from Alpine pastures) when produced and ripened at an altitude of over 900 m in the administrative areas of the communes of Frabosa Soprana, Frabosa Sottana, Garessio as regards Val Casotto, Magliano Alpi for the part bordering on Ormea, Montalto Mondovì, Ormea, Pamparato, Roburent and Roccaforte Mondovì.
Raschera DOP is a semi-fat, raw, pressed cheese, ivory white in colour with a compact texture. It has a refined, delicate taste, characteristically aromatic and moderately sharp and savoury if aged. It must be allowed to ripen for at least 30 days if made from heat-treated milk and at least 60 days if made from raw milk. The cheese is produced in two different shapes: – as a square shape with flat surfaces of between 28 and 40 cm in length, irregular sides between 7 and 15 cm high and weighing from 6 to 10 kg; – in a wheel shape with flat surfaces measuring 30-40 cm in diameter, slightly convex sides about 6 to 9 cm in height, weighing between 5 and 9 kg. Like all cheese, Raschera should be stored in a cool place or in the warmest part of the
fridge, in its original wrapping, or foil, in a plastic or glass container.
Ancient Tartrà in Raschera fondue
Ingredients: (serves 6)
• 4 eggs plus 2 yolks
• 1/2 full-cream milk and 1/4 liquid cream
• 1 onion
• 3 tablespoons grated Grana cheese
• 400 g Raschera D.O.P.
• 1 tablespoon chopped herbs (laurel, sage, rosemary) – Butter
• 2 glasses full cream Milk – Salt – Ground black pepper – Nutmeg
Chop the onion and fry in butter until golden brown. Whisp eggs into a separate bowl, add lukewarm milk, cream, then Grana cheese, 100 g Raschera cut into small pieces, the herbs, nutmeg, salt and ground pepper. Mix to a soft consistency, then add the onion already cooked and stir again.
Drop the mixture into well buttered and sprinkled of flour small moulds. Put them into a moderate preheated oven (150 degrees), cooking in a bain-marie,
for 40 minutes ca. Prepare the cheese fondue, by melting 300 g Raschera in 2 glasses milk and cook in a bain-marie again. Before serving, cover a dish with the cheese cream, place each Tartrà in the centre, then spread the cheese fondue over the top.Serve hot.
Recommended wine to accompany this recipe: Dolcetto delle Valli Monregalesi.