Hidden away in a lush treasure-trove of glorious scenery which is still largely rural and unspoiled, splendid pristine meadows are arrayed across mountain slopes: These are Ticino’s real gems and the tinkle of cowbells is the soundtrack to an alpine lifestyle which follows the slow pace of the changing seasons. Go hiking in the mountains and you’ll want to try some of the cheeses produced by skilled local cheese-makers. The milk used imparts a very special aroma and taste to the cheese, depending on the type of forage eaten by the cows: This might include alpine lovage, golden crepide, ribwort plantain and various types of alpine clover. These are traditional alpine cheeses and include Brie-style cheeses, but also what are known as dairy cheeses which are semi-hard and full-fat. Just as famous are the flat or “büscion” style cheeses made with cow’s or goat’s milk; they can be eaten fresh and sprinkled with ground pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Genuine “goat’s” cheese is marked with a special ““Capra Ticino” brand. “Zincarlin” is another outstanding variety; this is a fresh cheese to which salt and ground pepper are added. “Zincarlin della Val da Mücc” has a more intense flavour; it is aged and improved for over two months using white wine according to an old, time-honoured method.
By Alessandro Pesce, journalist and Daniela Linder-Basso (UCT – Unione Contadini Ticinesi)