Montasio is a cheese that has been around since the 13th century. It was traditionally made by monks living in the Moggio abbey, located at the top of the Carnic Alps. Originally, the cheese was called Carnia, named after the area of production. The milk used to make the cheese comes from three different bovine races: Friesian, Swiss Brown and Pezzata Rossa. The cows are raised according to the rules of the Montasio Cheese Consortium.
The cheese is made with milk from two milkings, mixed with veal rennet. The curd is broken into pieces the size of rice grains and is cooked at 115°F. The mass of cheese in then removed from the whey and place in molds, with the Montasio label. The cheese is then pressed and either rubbed with salt or a wet salt cure. Montasio is aged according to its use. Aging time can vary from 2 to 5 months for cheese for slicing, and 12 months for cheese to be grated. Depending on its age, Montasio can taste like fresh milk from mountain pastures. Older cheese usually develops a spicier more pronounced flavor.Montasio is used to make frico, a dish traditionally prepares in Alpine homes. It is basically cheese cooked in a hot pan until it is crunchy and full of flavor. When purchasing Montasio, look for the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) trademark.