The first written evidence about the production of Bitto cheese dates back to about the 1600s. According to historians, rearing livestock in the Alpine valleys of the region was started by the Celts. The term “bitto” comes from the Celtic word “bitu”, which means “everlasting” and while Bitto cheese doesn’t last forever, the name may refer to the fact that it can be aged up to 18 years. Bitto’s success is likely partly a result of the fact that it can be aged so long which would let it be able to be a part of long journeys on carriages or by boat. The most important city for selling Bitto cheese was historically Morbegno, and since the beginning of the XIX century, the city has hosted an annual fair in honour of the cheese.
How to enjoy it
Wheels of Bitto Storico are considered to be very special and they are often given as wedding presents with unique designs on the exterior of the cheese. Private owners usually wait 5 years to eat a Bitto Storico whereas restaurants will wait until the cheese is aged a full 10 years.
Bitto cheese is best eaten at room temperature and is absolutely delicious on its own served with fruits or sprinkled with a little balsamic vinegar. Although it is delicious on its own, it can and is often used as an ingredient in traditional dishes of the Valtelline valley. It can also be used as a quality ingredient in numerous traditional dishes from the region. It is the main ingredient for pizzoccheri , sciatt (little pancakes made with some grappa and filled with cheese) and taragna polenta, a variety of polenta made with buckwheat, as well as completing dishes such as risotto, baked pasta and fondue. When it is mature it can be used for grating over dishes as well.
Bitto PDO pairs well with local wines such as Valtellina Superiore PDO, Inferno or a dry red Nebbiolo wine such as Sfursat.
Sources: Wikipedia, weareitaly.net, Fine Dining Lovers, dopitalianfood.com, luxeadventuretraveler.com, storicoribelle.com