Today’s post is about Vacherin Mont D’Or - a glorious cheese from Switzerland that is available once per year – right around Christmas. It is from Switzerland, made in the Jura mountain region and the foothills below named the Canton of Vaud:
This is unlike most cheese I’d ever had – an unlike anything I even knew of a few years back. You can’t slice it, shred it or melt it. You can’t even take it out of it’s container. It’s an enigma.
A few years back we tried Epoissesfor Christmas. It’s very distinctive – and defines stinky. We placed it in the bed of my pickup truck and 15 minutes later the cab reeked of it. We stored it in the fridge 0 wrapped and in two Tupperware containers within each other. A woman who recommended it stored it her her garage. It is that stinky. My palette was not prepared, I could not get past the stink. It was pleasant on bread but I found the smell off-putting. I think I may go back to the well next year and try it again.
Like Epoisses, Mont D’Or is an AOC (“Appelation D’Origine Controlee”) certified cheese. This is similar to authentic Champagne – it is a certification of workmanship, quality, process, geography and authenticity. There are only 6 cheeses from Switzerland with this distinction. Epoisses is also an AOC product though it is from France.
Mont D’Or is not as smelly, though it is still strong. It is packaged similarly – basically it fills a small circular wooden box. What appears to be a semi-hard cheese reveals itself to be a crust. Peel the crust off and you have a lovely smooth cream which is instantly ready for dipping bread. On New Years we dug in to what we called a reverse fondue – hot bread dipped into warm temperature (“cool”) cheese. Passed from person to person around a table is my preferred method of sharing and consuming and this has been a highlight of the holidays for two-years running.
There are recipes on the site which include baking this down with a white wine which would also produce a wonderful fondue=type experience.
The cheese is simply fantastic. It’s silky, smooth and creamy. It has a subtle bite with a butter-like fullness that consumes the senses. It is one of the few things that I have eaten that make my mind completely silent when tasting it. There’s no room to speak with a mouthful of this - it’s close to overwhelming and is complete fulfillment.
One of the pleasures I take in this cheese is it’s winter seasonality. We have an abundance of new and fresh crops from early spring through late fall and it’s nice to have a treat to look forward to in the middle of the darkest days of winter.
The disadvantage is the price – a small box of this product which can be shared scarcely with 6-8 people is approximately $50. I came very close to skipping it this year because of the price – this was a third of my cheese budget ad is the most expensive per gram of any cheese I buy (it would be about $130 per kilo or about $50 per pound). The wine recipe would certainly make it last longer although I have no regrets about buying this seasonal treat and it (or it’s stinkier French buddy) will be coming to Christmas next year.