This December Wasik’s Cheese Shop is piggy-backing on their cheese recommendation from last month. In November, we sampled a beautiful spring milk alpine cheese called L’Etivaz Fromage D’Alpage, This month, we’re trying out the sister cheese, and oh boy, it’s an ooey-gooey good one!
Vacherin Mont d’Or
CHEESE – Soft-Washed Rind
DAIRY – Raw Cow’s Milk
ORIGIN – Switzerland
COST – $40.00 per pound
Last month I came home from Wasik’s with a huge nugget of amazing Alpine cheese. That salty/nutty cheese was special because of the quality of milk that those farmers high up in the Swiss Alps use to make the cheese.
This month I came home with a small wheel of Vacherin Mont d’Or, a rich, soupy cheese that all cheesemongers crave. Brad Wasik told me this “holy grail” of mountain cheese is the counterpart of the L’Etivaz Fromage D’Alpage because it is what those talented farmers make when they aren’t busy making 30-pound wheels of the Gruyere-style cheese. It’s the “holy grail” because it started the trend of wrapping cheese in a tree bark.
When the cows aren’t enjoying the fresh spring grass, they end up eating hay. This affects milk production. So, the farmers use the limited cow’s milk to make this decadent (but smaller wheel) of soft mountain cheese wrapped in Spruce bark. The farmer’s bath the cheese in a salt water brine to add a bit of flavor. The puffy white parts that decorate the top of the rind are called the flower. You can see all of that lovely flowering goodness and spruce bark in detail in the below photo.
The Vacherin Mont d’Or is also special because it is a seasonal cheese, available only in November and December. That’s right folks! If you thought Stilton was the only cheese that lays claim to the holiday season, you were wrong!
Brad gave us some tips on how to eat this once a year cheese. First of all, bring it to room temperature. If it is ripe, it will become an incredible soupy consistency that you can then spoon out and plop on top of crusty bread. Or, just eat it spoon to mouth! Pair it with Burgandy or Alsacian White Wine. Another excellent pairing is shaving fresh truffles over the top – HELLO!?!
So, the Vacherin Mont d’Or needs a little bit of planning to eat, as you need to let it warm up to enjoy that cheesy heavenly consistency. I took my wheel out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature, but for not very long. (As unfortunately, I am rather impatient.) I wanted that soupy goodness ASAP!
I know there’s a trick of putting the cheese near a warm fire to speed up the process. So, I popped it into the oven for a couple of minutes. BIG MISTAKE! I had melted cheese all over a cookie sheet. I was so mad at myself for not waiting!
Now, this was a big lesson learned. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying every melted piece of goodness. You have to experience the rich flavor of this cheese, either all over a cookie sheet or perfectly tempered by the warmth of your house. It’s earthy and sweet all rolled into one spruce bark. Oh, and do not remove the bark, it will help to keep the cheese contained. Also, do not put it in the oven. 🙁
Happy Cheese Eating!
Don’t forget to visit Wasik’s in Wellesley. For a fun and unique gift, consider sending a cheese & goodies basket!
ADDRESS: 61 CENTRAL ST, WELLESLEY, MA 02482
“When my get-up-and-go has got up and went,
I hanker for a hunk o’ cheese!
When I’m dancin’ a hoedown and my boots kinda slow down,
Or anytime I’m weak in the knees,
I hanker for a hunk of,
A slab or slice or chunk of,
A snack a day’s a winner
And yet won’t spoil my dinner!
I hanker for a hunk o’ cheese!”