A seasonal cheese that flows

At this time of the year when it is chilly, I am less inclined to think of green meadows with cows grazing on them much less cows being milked to make cheese – the Vacherin Mont d’Or is an exception.

In early 2009, when I was doing some spadework on where to go and what to do in Switzerland where I was going to meet my wife-to-be on a short vacation, I came across the Vacherin Mont d’Or. In French, la vache refers to the cow, and mont d’or to the mountain of gold, which could just as well be referring to the slightly golden hue of the cheese that oozes out from its soft rind, or to the golden slopes of the Jura mountains on the French-Swiss border from where the cheese originates. Unfortunately, for me, in September of 2009, I was a tad bit too early in the season to taste the cheese. So, recently, when I found myself in Paris in October, listening to a friend longingly describe how in her family they allow a small wheel of the Vacherin Mont d’Or spread over a plate of steaming hot potatoes, I rushed to the nearest fromagerie (cheese shop), bought myself a big wedge of the cheese, practiced some French, and elicited a broad smile in trying to find out any differences between the French and Swiss versions (the cheese shares an interesting history between France and Switzerland). Since I didn’t have access to a kitchen, I bought a baguette instead, and walked back through the streets of Paris feeling like I was doing what I should be doing.

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Fast forward many weeks, my wife and I were strolling through the Whole Foods store near home when I saw a velvety textured, off-white colored cheese completely spread out from its rind – apparently, a thermalized version of the Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland, called the Petit Vaccarinus, is now available in the USA.

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The unpasteurized French version and the thermalized Swiss version taste different. Nevertheless, a lunch of boiled, fingerling potatoes covered with the Mont d’Or, makes me think of the difference in flavor between cheese made from milk that is obtained from cows that munch on hay during the cold months, versus those that graze on grass during the warmer time of the year.

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8 thoughts on “A seasonal cheese that flows

  1. NIRMALA

    My knowledge of cheese is richer reading your blog. I have made a mental note of it .The in depth observation and your wanting to share your thoughts is appreciated. Looking forward to more of this...............

    Reply
  2. Jyothi Rebecca Thomas

    Wow Bala, Interestingly written and makes one go through the experience ! Wish we get to taste it too .... it honestly is an enriching experience lovely to learn so much just by reading your blog .... My all time favorite is Camembert introduced by my Brother in law from Reunion Island - plain and lightly grilled its heavenly ...umm so will wait for your comments on that too

    BTW I have been thinking of going on a diet now ...its a bad idea 🙂 . Good luck to you and your lovely wife , as you tickle our taste buds ! yummy .

    Reply
    1. Bala

      Ms.Thomas,
      Thank you. I just looked up the Réunion Island - it sounds very interesting. A French island in the Indian Ocean - I wonder how the cuisine is ?

      Bala.

      Reply
      1. Jyothi Rebecca Thomas

        Your next trip ..live volcanic Island 🙂 as organic as they can get ! I am sure you will love it and my sister will be happy to have you ! With your French you will feel at home !

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  3. Jeff E

    "Walked back through the streets of Paris feeling like I was doing what I should be doing..." Embrace that feeling, Bala, I think one of the most gratifying anyone can experience - so proud of you for following your heart and grateful that you are sharing all of these beautiful images, sensations, and stories with the rest of us, and reminding us how, unexpectedly, the encounters of our "everyday life" can bring back such wonderfully fond memories. C'est merveilleux!

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  4. Reva Pershad

    Bala ,your enthused description & relating of your trip to Sorbonne had me captivated & transported to the pastoral realm of serenity & languid ness . I am so glad that you took the plunge & went after your heart's desire . It surely was an experience of a lifetime & it was so wonderful of you to share the sights, sounds ( can almost hear the cows mooing) & taste of the golden hued , velvety smooth d'Or . It took me back to 1971 when I visited the Gruyere cheese factory with its awe inspiring mounds & mounds of cheese being churned out .
    I am so happy that you have started this blog & am looking forward to share more such experiences with you Pavi & you are now well on your path of culinary adventures Good Luck

    Reply
    1. Bala

      Thank you Mrs.Pershad. I can only imagine how wonderful Switzerland was in 1971! I look forward to hearing more Gruyere-like stories.

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