Like Christmas or, new year’s eve or the 4th of july, there are things in Romagna coming only once in the year. Sogliano, a very little town in the hills near Cesena, opens its Fossas in november to discover what the cheese became after 3 months.
Every year, on Saint Catherine’s day (25th november) Sogliano is invaded by thousands of people waiting for this big event, curious to taste and also to see the new cheese. The more than 40 producers in the area offer their production to people coming from all over Italy and abroad, too.
Fossa cheese is the king of regional receipies like “passatelli” or other special pastas or even alone with Balsamic Vinegar.
What is a Fossa? A big hole with a unique access way, carved in the yellow sandstone once used to keep wheat and corn. Inside the microclima was really perfect, moreover it was a secure place to protect it during war times. In middle ages Romagna was a troubled land: the sieges of fortresses and boroughs forced people to survive somehow, that’s why they need to protect their food.
In 18th century something new happened: a family hid some cheeses there but time passed and they forgot them. Once they entered the fossa, after some months, they discovered that cheese was still there but in a changed way: the rind was a bad one at first look, there was no mildew and the inside had a strong and keen smell and taste. So they decided to make some experiment to understand why cheese had became that way! The story of fossa cheese was a real human discover but nature, as usual, had done another miracle.
Making a fossa cheese is not a simple matter: every producer has its secrets concerning both the quality of cheese he puts in the fossa, and the way he fit the fossa.
Every year the fossa must be stuffed with straw and this is the first important detail that creates the cheese as it is.
The fossa’s man dives down and covers it very careful with straw to absorb the wall’s humidity, while the floor is a wooden one, some cm off the ground. Before that he puts the cheeses in white cotton fabric bags, 8 for each bag, puts a mark and seals every bag. The bags are placed one above the other in order to fill the fossa. It is hot and humid and dark inside, not so easy to do a good work, that is why fossa man is a very hard work.
The cheeses must weight between 600 and 2 chilos.
Then everything is covered by a chalk cover. Inside the cheese keeps on fermenting during 3 months and then in november comes out.
What more you need to know about Sogliano to go and taste? here you can find a little map to arrive, remeber to take the Via Emilia, Rimini direction and than you will arrive quite easily.
Thank to Marco Pellegrini for being such a lovely host!
Tips and Info
If you want to visit Sogliano, please contact the local tourism office which is also the Proloco, http://www.prolocosogliano.it/. The fair of the cheese is in Novembre , so stay tuned if you are in the area. By the way, the Rubicon Valley is quite near to the Val Marecchia, along which you can find Sant’Agata Feltria, the homeland of precious truffles.
If you want to pay a isit to the fossa of Marco Pellegrini, contact him here, www.formaggiodifossa.it