I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday and that you ate until you could eat no more! I had a wonderful time with my family and was able to spread some cheese love :). This is the cheese plate that I made on Black Friday... Starting from all the way on the left and working clockwise we have: Cantal, Humboldt Fog, Petit Basque, Brillat Savarin, Rogue River Blue, Dancing Fern and Rush Creek right smack in the middle. It was quite a treat!
Now on to an exciting cheese that has recently arrived in just a few stores... The Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or.
Cheese: Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or
Producer: Patrick and Charles Hauser
Location: Le Lieu (Northwestern Switzerland)
Milk: Thermalized cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
Many of my favorite cheeses emulate the Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or (think Rush Creek, Winnimere or Harbison) and while they come close and are absolutely delicious, the Petit Vacherin Mont d'Or is a cheese on its own. This cheese is only made during the fall and winter months when the cows switch from eating grass to eating hay. The milk used to make this cheese is the same milk that is made to make the classic Gruyeres we know and love.
As it is shipped from Switzerland, it comes in a little wooden box that helps it hold its shape. After carefully removing the box, I was greeted with the funky, grassy, barnyardy smell that is unique to washed rind cheeses. I slowly and carefully cut off the top of this cheese in order to enjoy it in the traditional fashion - dipping into it like a fondue.
I had never tasted this cheese before, so it was a really exciting moment for me. Upon first tasting the cheese, you get a hit of butter followed by grassy, sweet hay flavors. The aftertaste you are left with is earthy and slightly funky. It was divine! As it comes in 12oz rounds, I couldn't eat it all by myself and had a couple of friends enjoy it with me. They were pleasantly surprised at how the smell was pretty pungent but the flavor was mellow and creamy. I served a slightly more robust Pinot Noir with this cheese and the pairing went over fairly well. The wine did not overpower the flavor of the cheese and the particular Pinot I served had a little bit of a smokey flavor that paired wonderfully with the woodsy notes in the cheese.
This cheese is super limited and only available at certain Whole Foods Markets in this area. I bought mine from the Whole Foods in Cupertino. If you see this cheese, make sure you snatch it up! You won't be disappointed. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!