For those traveling in the northern Italy region, and for those who wish to combine a culinary cheese-based experience in their trip, it is recommended reading this article about the ripening and aging rooms of Guffanti Luigi, located in Arona on the southern end of Lake Maggiore.
A short drive from the dairy I told about in the last post, and I find myself in the outskirts of Lake Maggiore. The lake to my right, and Waze is leading us to the left side alley, we go in, and it feels as if we reached yet another typical Italian delicatessen … but first impression can be deceiving!
Beneath this shop lies a treasure; a great structure of 600-meters cellars, in which the Guffanti family has been aging the finest of Italian cheeses for 140 years. (they call it caves)
The cheeses are collected only from the finest dairies in Italy and are then stored in these caves for further ripening and treatment, until the Andrea and his team determine that the cheese have reached its optimal taste, and then it is sold to customers all over the world.
Andrea, the man in charge of the cheese quality, accompanies us on a tour of the caves.
We started in the first room, where pasta filata cheeses are comfortably hang for 3 years of aging. am amazed by the beauty of the room and the quantities of cheeses, not aware of the fact that that beyond the curtain at the end of the room the real thing is hiding.
I’m passing through a curtain and a hidden treasure is revealed before my eyes: thousands of different cheeses arranged on wooden shelves, bottles of wine in a niche in the brick wall, covered with a layer of dust …
I start walking fast in this endless labyrinth just to get an initial impression, I want to see more and more, and when I calm down, I go back to Andrea.
Andrea, who has been working there for 10 years is very passionate about cheeses and culinary, starts explaining about each cheese. His knowledge is vast, and he goes down in great detail, combines history with the present in his explanations, and during the conversation he mentions that every single cheese here is Italian, except for one French cheese – the Conte – which they have been aging for 3 years.
After the tour around the caves, we go upstairs to the cheese tasting in the tasting room. On the walls of the room are certificates and medals that the Guffanti family had won during those 140 years that the place existed.
In the center of the room is a large tasting table with 3 cheese plates on it, symbolizing the Piedmont cheeses from the South to the North:
On the first plate lays 3 months’ lactic goat cheese, made of unpasteurized milk, surrounded by forest fruits.
On the second plate, a tasting of the Bettelmatt that is made in a dairy 2200 meters high, in the Italian Alps. We tasted cheeses that has been made in different seasons- one from the summer of 2015- during that period of the year the cows are grazing outside and the food is based out more about green pasture. The second cheese was from the winter season as cows come down from the mountains to the barn and feed on dry hay.
The third plate contained an exquisite display of Gorgonzola Piccante- a spicy and buttery cheese aged for9 months.
We accompanied the tasting with white Fresco wine.
We said good-bye to Andrea and Carlo Fiorini, the owner of the place, and went on to the next experience in Crampiolo, in the Italian Alps on the Swiss border.
I attach the URL www.guffantiformaggi.com to anyone interested in more details.
Yours, Hanan Hagban