Blu del Moncenisio and the Hidden Mysteries of Lago del Moncenisio
Blu del Moncenisio is a rather rare cheese hailing from the Piedmont's mountains in Val di Susa, near the charming and mysterious area of Lake Moncenisio.
Blu del Moncenisio is a rather rare cheese hailing from the Piedmont's mountains in Val di Susa, near the French border. Since the 11th century, it has been produced exclusively using the milk from local cows which in the summer months graze on the high meadows in the area of Moncenisio pass, near Lake Moncenisio.
Only very few artisanal dairies are still producing this Italian blue cheese, which along with the famous cheeses Gorgonzola and Castelmagno DOP forms the triumvirate of Piedmontese blue cheeses.
Yet, unlike the two cousins, the dark veins of Blu del Moncenisio are not due to the insertion of blue molds into the cheese, but they are caused by the repetead piercing of its rind with copper needles.
Blu del Moncenisio is made of raw cow's milk, sometimes with the add of a little amount of sheep's milk, however not more than 10 percent. The cheese ages between 4 and 7 months and its flavor ranges from rather mild to peppery and spicy depending on the age. Its creamy and ivory paste contains a high percentage of moisture and compensates the spicy taste of the veins with a surprisingly sweet finish and the light flavors of hay and herbs.
Blu del Moncenisio is a great dessert cheese to be paired with sweet Italian wines like Moscato or some mild and fruity white wines like Sauvignon o Gewürztraminer. It is also an ideal pairing with fruit chutneys, to be served as a bite-sized appetizer.
The hidden mysteries of Lago del Moncenisio
Lago del Moncenisio (Moncenisio Lake) is situated between the Italian Val di Susa and the French Valle de la Maurienne to which it belongs politically since the end of World War II, when these territories passed to France according to the Paris Peace Treaties. The Lake can be reached by passing the little village Moncenisio and San Nicolao Plain.
Originally, Moncenisio Lake was a rather small lake crossed by the so-called Red Brigde (Ponte Rosso) which was part of the route directed to the Mont Cenis. However, with the construction of the Mon-Cenis dam in 1969 Lago del Moncenisio extendedit and achieved its present dimensions.
The old bridge as well as the hospice, built in the 9th century to give shelter to pilgrims, disappeared under the water.
Every year between the end of March and the beginning of June, after the winter season, the lake is completely depleted and it's long history reappears. Not only the bridge and the hospice, but also the three older dams, tunnel, bunker and an anti-tank ditch dating back to World War II.
Near Moncenisio Lake, you will also find an abandoned village, Gran Croix, and it's church, built in 1626.