Tartiflette – a hearty dish from the Savoie in France

tartiflette
Tartiflette
© Margouillat | Dreamstime.com

Tartiflette

At least here where I live, the winter has been long and cold. So now when easter is soon coming up and winter finally giving in for spring a comfy dish like tartiflette would be very suitable. Fairly easy to make, flavourful and hearty.

Tartiflette is a dish from the Savoie, eastern France that is. You may think yhink this dish has long tradistions, but alas the answer is no. “Invented” some time during the 1980s Rumour has it the manufacturers of Reblochon had to do someting to increase sales of their cheese. Heard it before? Probably. Just like fondue in Swtizerland. Nothimng wrong with that. As soon as a dish is established we tend to put in more tradition than it deserves! Like Tartiflette that is a fairly new thing. Does not really matter as long as it tastes good, and naturally, Reblochon is a key ingredient. But is does not have to, you can use a local cheese of the same kind if you so wish. A mild washed rind cheese that is.

This is what you need..

750 g potatoes
200 g bacon – sliced and cut in cubes
25 g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 dl dry white wine or vermuth
1 dl whipping cream
Some salt and pepper according to your likes (remember there is salt in the cheese as well)
250 g Reblochon (at least half a cheese)

..and this is how you do it

Heat your oven to 175 degrees C
Use large potaoes, boil them for 20 minutes. Unpeeled. Drain the water and let them cool in cold water.
Peel the potatoes, and slice them about 1 cm thick. Then dice the slices.

Cut the bacon in 1/2 cm thick slices and then cut into dice.
Warm the butter in the frying pan and fry the bacon until golden brown. Mind the heat – not too hot. Use a skimmer when removing the bacon from the frying pan so you drain most of the fat. Brown the onion in the bacon fat until shiny and golden brown. Put the onion on some kitchen paper to dry of the fat. Use some kitchen paper to dry off the frying pan. Bacon and onion back into the frying pan together with the white wine. Boil with high temperature until most of wine is vaporated. Add the diced potatoes. Blend well and stir frequently so it does not burn. Add the cream and salt and pepper according to your likes. Blend and let cook for a minute.

Grease the inside of an ovenproof dish. Pour it all over into the dish and smooth the top with the back of a spoon so it becomes even.

If you have a whole Reblochon wheel cut it in two and save one half for later. You only need one half (a half moon so to speak). Buy half a cheese if you have no other use for the rest. Make slits in the rind with a sharp knife, both sides and the side. Then cut the cheese in two so you have two half moons. (Like you do when making a cream cake). The two pieces should now have half the thickness of a normal Reblochon. You have two half moons. Put these on top of the dish with paste down and rind up. From above it now looks like a wheel. Cover the ovenproof dish with aluminum foil. Put in the middle of the oven and leave for one hour. Remove the foil after an hour and stir so the cheese blends well with the rest of the ingredients. Turn on the grill element of the oven and roast til the top becomes golden brown. Watch the process so the top does not get burned.

if you want to use a local cheese that’s fine. Preferably a Reblochon style cheese.

To drink

What about a white from the same area, Savoie? Perhaps not the most widely spread of wines, but they are available. Never wrong to dink local wines. Even though I personally will favour some white, this is a dish that goes well with both white and red wines. The cheese is the main ingredient with a fair dash of bacon responsible for the main flavours. The main white grape of Savoie is probably Jacquére while Mondeuse is the main red variety. Not very well known any of them perhaps. All the more important to try them out. If you find wines from the Savoie too scary, try the nabouring area, Jura. Bon appétit.

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Alpine cheese, is the older always the better?

alpine cheese
Comté and Gruyère

Back in 2017 I attended a tasting at Cheese 2017 in Bra about alpine cheese. Paired with Franciacorta brut, by the way, which appeared to be a very favourable pairing. There also arouse an interesting discussion about age and flavour profiles of alpine cheeses, the essence being that the older the better is not necessarily true. That said taste is personal, while some like the fruit of the young cheeses others enjoy the caramel of the really well matured. Below I have tried to create a guide for Comté which I believe also can be true for Gruyère and other similar cheeses.

Alpine cheese

Comté and other alpine cheeses are firm cheeses that is made from raw cow’s milk in the alpine regions of France, Switzerland, Italy mainly, but also Austria. This style of alpine cheese is aged for varying lengths of time, ranging from a few months to several years, and during this time, it develops a unique flavour profile.

Flavour development

When Comté is young, it has a mild, buttery flavour with a slightly nutty and fruity taste. As it ages, the flavor becomes more complex and intense, developing a range of flavours and aromas. Some of the key changes in flavour that occur with age include:

  1. Nuttiness: As the cheese ages, the nutty flavour becomes more pronounced, and the cheese takes on a slightly sweet, caramelized taste.
  2. Fruity notes: Comté cheese often has a fruity taste, which becomes more pronounced with age. The cheese may develop flavours of apricot, pineapple, and even cherry.
  3. Earthiness: As the cheese ages, it develops an earthy flavour, similar to mushrooms or truffles.
  4. Umami: Umami is the savory flavour that is often described as meaty or brothy. As Comté cheese ages, it develops a rich, umami flavour that can be quite strong in older cheeses.
  5. Crystallisation: Another notable change in flavour with age is the development of small crystals within the cheese. These crystals, called tyrosine, form as the cheese dries out and become more prominent in older cheeses. They add a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavour to the cheese.

Overall, the flavour of Comté style alpine cheese evolves and becomes more complex with age. While younger cheeses may be mild and buttery, older cheeses have a range of flavours that can be quite intense and rich.

Also read: “Salt” crystals in firm cheeses, what are they?

So is there an ideal age for alpine cheese?

The ideal age for an alpine cheese will probably be subjective and depending on personal preference. However, many cheese experts consider Comté style cheese to be at its best between 12 and 18 months of age.

At this age, the cheese has developed a complex and intense flavour profile, with a balance of nuttiness, fruitiness, and earthiness. The texture of the cheese is also ideal, with a firm yet supple texture that is not too dry or too creamy.

That being said, some people may prefer younger Comté style cheese for its milder flavour and softer texture, while others may enjoy older cheeses for their strong and complex flavours. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what flavour and texture profile you enjoy the most.

And in my opinion?

My personal alpine cheese favourite is an 18 months old Comté. It has fruit, just enough sweetness without any overpowering and has not yet developed caramel flavours. I am not a big fan.

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Be my Valentine

valentine
Cheese for Valentine, Coeur de Neufchâtel from Normandie, France.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is celebrated annually on February 14th. Its history is shrouded in mystery, with various theories about its origins. One of the most popular theories is that it originated from ancient Roman celebrations of Lupercalia, a festival of love and fertility held in mid-February.

Valentine as we know it today

However, the holiday as we know it today is largely associated with Saint Valentine. He was a Catholic priest who lived in the third century. According to legend, he defied the orders of the Roman emperor Claudius II, who had banned marriages in an attempt to increase the number of single men available for military service. Saint Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret, and was eventually imprisoned and sentenced to death for his defiance.

The Catholic Church honoured Saint Valentine as a martyr, and the holiday of Saint Valentine’s Day was established in his memory. Over time, the holiday evolved into a celebration of love and romance, and people began to exchange gifts and cards to express their affection for one another.

In the Middle Ages, the tradition of sending love letters on Valentine’s Day became popular, and by the 15th century, the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards began to appear. Today, it is celebrated in many countries around the world, and it remains one of the most popular holidays for expressing love and affection.

…and

In conclusion, the history of Valentine’s Day is a mix of ancient celebrations, Christian traditions, and cultural evolution. Regardless of its origins, it remains an important occasion for people to show their love and appreciation for one another.

The cheese

And this is where the cheese comes in of course. Celebrate the day with someone you love and enjoy a piece of excellent cheese like the Coeur de Neufchâtel in the picture above. Let your favourite drink accompany the cheese.

Thanks to: Chat Open AI

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Raw milk cheese – the future?

raw milk cheese
Assortment of raw milk cheeses

I have checked out AI – Artificial Intelligence – and asked what the future prospects of raw milk cheese might be. Not gloomy at all, but there is the issue of defending the definition of cheese or milk rather, irrespective if it’s raw or pasteurised. So here is what AI came up with, based on my questions.

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