Friday, December 4, 2009

Vacherin Nont d'Or - the Holy Grail of Cheese? Perhaps.

To every season there is a cheese, and winter belongs to Vacherin Mont d'Or (vash-er-ANN moan-DOOR).  This incredible cheese is only available during the winter months, and once it's gone, you have to wait till the next December!  When I got to Andrew's this afternoon, there were so many people there!  I didn't know what to do, and then I saw the guy in front of me getting this a Vacherin Mont d'Or it's darling wood box, and I knew that would be the perfect cheese to celebrate the end of a looooong week.  And lucky me - I got the last one!  Ha!  Collector's victory!

Every book I've read calls this part of the Holy Grail of cheese.  Andrew claims that it is "one of the finest achievements of human civilization."  I'd probably put it behind fire and the wheel, but it might come shortly after that on the list.  What else can I add?  Well, I can agree that it is pretty amazing, and it comes with some cool bells and whistles.  Even though it looks like a scary orange washed rind stinker, it isn't.  It's soft, fuzzy coral rind has beautiful ripples. It comes wrapped in Spruce bark from the mountain trees of Switzerland to keep it from falling apart in it's lovely softness, and is wedged into a safe little box for shipping.  I tried to bang it out of the packaging, but it was stuck.  Which is good because once I dug into the top of this cheese, it was so soft I could probably have used a spoon, and I would never have gotten it back in!

The spruce bark definitely gives this cheese a piny nose.  I also got a little pepper, and when I closed my eyes, I was almost transported to a Swiss mountain top covered in snow.  Unlike the milk in some of the cheese that I've talked about that tastes like grass, or flowers or whatever, this one has a purity to it that comes from cows eating nothing but fresh hay and grain.  It does have a bit of "barnyard tang" but really what you taste is beautiful milky, buttery goodness, a crazy pine tree flavor and a tiny bit of pepper.  Some people say it tastes like scrambled eggs.  I didn't get that, but who knows.  I like my eggs poached.

This is not a cheap cheese - you can't get less than a whole cheese (you'd probably have to pack it in a bag it would be so goopy!).  I spend $32 on it, but it we'll snack off it for a while.  It won't be an every day purchase, but it isn't an every day cheese.  It's a celebratory cheese - for a week survived, for an exam passed, for good times with friends.  Hey - if you're in the neighborhood, drop in, and I'll scoop you out a little on a piece of bread!   We'll share a glass of wine, maybe some figs...mmmm.  Better hurry!  The dog looks hungry!

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