I found heaven! Discovering the Alpine dairies

More adventures! My best mate Luigino, the dairy man has recently taken me to an incredible place.

Close your eyes and imagine: Fresh air, emerald green grass,Β breathtaking views and a lump of deliciously creamy fresh cheese slowly melting in your mouth. Welcome to the world of the “malghe” (or “malga” if it’s only one); these are dairies which are located high up on the mountains.

Malga Montasio

There are several malghe in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in North Eastern Italy and they are all different from each other; the majority are family run. We visited the “Malga Montasio” where the well known semi-hard, mild and creamy cheese “Montasio”Β  comes from.Β  This is the cheese I eat all the time when I am in my home town in Italy.

Malga Montasio is situated on the Julian Alps at 1500-1800 meters above sea level on a territory of 1064 hectars with half of it devoted to pasture. In this beautiful spot you can perform various sports including hiking, mountain biking or just go for beautiful walks in the various paths of the area.

Cows grazing on the pastures

Often the malghe are only inhabited during the summer months. The farmers take their herds up to graze on the rich, green pastures after the the winter snow has melted.

Montasio mountain

The cheeses made in the malghe are highly prized and for a good reason. The cows grazing on such an amazing variety of grasses, herbs and flowers will produce a very creamy and super delicious milk and therefore an incredibly flavoursome cheese.

Cow grazing

This is proper slow food: in the dairy everything is made by hand. The guys wake up early in the morning to milk the cows and then they make the cheese. Just like in the olden days! Fascinating!

The dairy man on the mountains

I watched the guys making ricotta. I have now seen this process several times but I can never get bored watching it over and over again.

Ricotta making

Making ricotta at the dairy in Italy

The fresh steaming warm ricotta made me want to grab a slice and put it straight in my mouth. A ricotta from the malga is creamier and richer than ordinary ricotta. A slice on top of some rustic bread is just heaven, it simply melts in your mouth.

fresh-ricotta

In the back room I could see the cheese dipped into salty water. This is a process all cheese has to go through.

Montasio-cheese-in-salty-water

The cheese is then stored on the shelves and left to age.

Montasio cheese

You can often eat in malgas and sometimes stay overnight too.

The Malga Montasio

Or you can just buy some cheese and local meats and carry on with your walk.

salami

There is a white flower known in Italian as “Stella Alpina”, “Alpine star” (Leontopodium or Edelweiss in German) a member of the daisy family which in fact looks like a star. It grows at high altitudes in the cold mountainous regions in Europe. I saw several up here, I have always loved it since I was a child.

Alpine star

During my visit to this place I felt as if the distractions and stresses of the outside world were put on hold for a while. It felt good. The mountains have the power to calm your mind and to stop all the constant chattering of your mind.

I shall be back here very soon.

mountains-in-friuli

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6 Responses to I found heaven! Discovering the Alpine dairies

  1. La cucina di Molly

    Che posto incantevole, adoro la montagna e tutti quei prodotti caseari! Grazie per la condivisione! Un abbraccio!

    • Alida

      Grazie cara, anch’io adoro la montagna

  2. elisabetta

    Loved this post Alida. Mountains and countryside are like therapy for the heart and soul, especially when they are as beautiful as these. What’s this, I’ve spotted you slicing prosciutto supervised by the dashing Giorgio Locatelli. I love all his tv series, especially the Italy Unpacked ones – lucky girl πŸ˜‰

    • Alida

      Yes Giorgio is a great chef indeed. I was so happy to get the chance to meet him. Bacioni.

  3. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    These photos are so beautiful! You are making me miss the alps so much, and all the delicious dairy of course.

    • Alida

      I will be back there soon!

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