The Italian Cheese That Gets Aged In Sandstone Pits

The world of Italian cheeses is truly a remarkable one. If you think that France is the champion when it comes to cheese, you might not be that far off, but let's not disregard the many cheeses of Italy. Some of the best cheese in the world comes from this boot-shaped country, such as the famous mozzarella. The original mozzarella, called mozzarella di bufala, is made with water buffalo milk, giving the soft cheese some delicate, sweet, milky, and buttery flavors that are hard to replicate. Lovers of blue cheeses can indulge in the unique gorgonzola cheese, originating from Lombardy, and made in two main styles: the milder and slightly sweet "dolce" and the aged and peppery "piccante" (via Serious Eats). 

If you're itching for something hard and salty, you probably already know to look for a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano, which has so many cheap imitations that the European Court of Justice blocked the sale of fake Parmigiano in 2002 (per Marketing Week). And whether you like soft, blue, or hard cheese, Italy offers all of those and much more. For example, there is a unique Italian cheese that gets aged in sandstone pits, and not many people know about its production process.

Formaggio di Fossa is a protected Italian cheese from Romagna

In the region of Romagna, there's a special Italian cheese that's aged in sandstone pits. The cheese is called Formaggio di Fossa, and it's so good that it even has a PDO (protected designation of origin) status. Ever since Medieval times, cheese has been aged in caves between the regions of Marche and Romagna. Fossa cheese is made from sheep's or cow's milk (or a mixture of both), and it's left to age from 60 to 240 days. Afterward, the aged cheese is placed into sandstone pits and left to ripen for 80 to 100 days. The result is exceptional – the cheese develops aromas that are reminiscent of truffles and wood. The flavors range from mild to intense and spicy to bitter, depending on the wheel of cheese (via Emilia Romagna Turismo). 

Murray's Cheese reports that the flavor is sweet at first and then becomes slightly sharp with an intense aftertaste. It's recommended to pair Fossa cheese with a glass of aged Sangiovese wine for the best experience, but bourbon or Cabernet Sauvignon will also do good. Dried fruit and honey make for excellent accompaniments to Fossa cheese, and if you'd like something more substantial, grate the Fossa over gratins or pasta dishes.