osteperler

Mont d’Or – that’s what you need right now?

Mont d'Or
Vacherin du Haut-Doubs which is the proper name for the French version of Mont d’Or

Christmas is over and a new year has just about arisen, so perhaps it’s time for some warm Mont d’Or for some real new year “hygge” in front of the fire place? We have just laid behind us a period where the days became shorter and the darkness sneaked in, but in spite of this a period with a lot of light and expectations. And for some the ultimate stress. Does January represent sort of an anticlimax? Dark, cold and Easter holidays are far ahead. Well, then the “hygge” is all the more important.

From the Jura this cheese, either side of the border between France and Switzerland. I’ve said it before and I do repeat, Mont d’or is just sort of the common noun for this cheese which in France has the proper name of Vacherin du Haut-Doubs and in Switzerland Vacherin Mont d’Or. So a small advantage for the Swiss there. Does not seem like the French version has suffered all that much, though. I prefer the French by the way, and for a particular reason.

I choose French

Not a word against the Swiss, Switzerland or Swiss cheese. They know their cheese even though at first sight they may appear somewhat unvaried with all their alpine cheeses. Which are all excellent, by the way. But behind that facade there are many other interesting cheeses as well. Like the Vacherin Mont d’Or event hough I prefer the French version. For one reason or the other, the Swiss has decided to give the milk a moderate heat treatment, aka thermization. It is still an unpasteurised cheese, but it is not a cheese from raw milk. That’s why I am so careful to pin point that osteperler.no is all about raw milk cheese. That’s what I am devoted to. As natural as possible. And that is why I choose French Mont d’Or.

Why Mont d’Or only during winter?

Well, winter, that’s a relative concept. They can make it from August 15th through till March 15th. Not so much information available about how long they have made Mont d’Or, even though some say they can trace the cheese back to the 12th century or thereabout. Could of course be the tradition with making Mont d’Or goes all that far back, but it’s not for me to speculate. Another highly probable reason is that the summer milk, on the French side of the border was used for making Comté. The farmers formed small cooperatives, also known as fruitières. Making Comté requires considerable amounts of milk, so it sounded like a sensible idea to form cooperatives. They made cheese with long lives helping them through the winters. Getting the milk to these fruitières during wintertime was, however, a risky business. Add that the winter milk is less in volume but richer in milk fat, it seems like a smart decision to make small soft cheeses at the farm. A firm cheese requires less milk fat, as the fat holds on to the liquid and is therefore more suited for soft cheeses. Most alpine cheese and hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano are made from fat reduced milk. The fat being used for butter and such commodities. I suppose the situation was the same on the Swiss side of the border. However, today both Comté and Gruyère are made all year round, just have to mention that.

To drink

Is it sacrilegious to suggest a glass of fine white? Jura has some wonderful Chardonnays to offer that pairs very well. On the other hand, in Burgundy they drink red Rully or Savigny-les-Beaune. Your choice.

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Caprino d’Alpe from Castelmagno

It was during the time I wandered about and.., (Hunger by Hamsun, translated by George Egerton) – no not at all, I did not wander about hungry in Alba. Far from it. September last year, on my way to catch the train to Bra, I had some extra time so I did not go straight to the train station, but rather off the written trail. Serendipity struck and all by a sudden I was in front of a cheese farmer selling the cheese of the cooperative he belonged to. Caprino d’Alpe the cheese was called. If I am not completely wrong there was a farmer alongside him as well selling his Italian salame. But this morning it was all about cheese. I was the only customer, so we naturally had a chat. When he realised I was Norwegian he told me about his travels to my country in general and his coastal express journey in particular. Nice. I, on my part, wandered away with a Caprino d’Alpe, nicely wrapped. I caught the train to Bra and Cheese 2017 as was the purpose for my visit.

caprino d'alpe
Caprino d’Alpe an Italian mountain cheese from the village of Castelmagno in the Cueno province

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There is Parmigiano Reggiano, and then there is Parmigiano Reggiano

From my tiny spot here up north I observe that Norwegians, together with the rest of the world, probably, have taken Parmigiano Reggiano to heart. Aka Parmesan, a French name by the way. We cannot have enough of it. Personally I am more in favour of the Swiss Sbrinz, but it is made only in minute quantities, most of which is consumed domestically. The small part being exported, goes to Italy, of course. I think most of us are approaching the way Italians make use of the cheese, for everyday use. Most Italians though, have some finer Parmigiano Reggiano for festive use, such as Sundays. We mostly don’t. The reason for that is probably ignorance and availability.
I like being precise; so there is Parmigiano Reggiano, and then there is Parmigiano Reggiano. What’s the difference?

parmigiano reggiano
Can you tell whether this is a Parmigiano Reggiano?

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