We continue our winter hibernation, but bring you this cold-weather cheese from Switzerland today. Enjoy!

Maybe it has something to do with temperatures that can’t seem to climb above freezing around here, but I’m still craving hearty mountain cheeses. Appenzeller, another Swiss classic from Rolf Beeler, is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese brined in a centuries-old secret blend of herbs, wine and liquor.  Remarkably smooth, ideally suited for melting (think fondue), the Appenzeller has a sweet, fruity flavor and supple bite, with a spicy aftertaste. The buttery cheese has a few characteristic large holes and a hard reddish-orange rind.

Appenzeller is ideal for cooking, or serve on a cheeseboard with sausages and bread. I layered thinly sliced Appenzeller with stone ground mustard and Pinot Grigio salami on a wheat baguette, served with cornichons on the side. Perfect for a slightly gourmet, yet still hearty, Super Bowl appetizer. Enjoy with beer of course (a German bock would be nice), or pinot gris.

Check out this travelogue from Appenzell for a look at the cows responsible for this wonderful cheese.

— originally posted 1/27/09

Since early March is definitely still winter here in Minnesota, an Alpine cheese is still in season. And when you’re sick of snow and slush, a cozy cheese like Vacherin Fribourgeois is just the thing to remind you that there are benefits to the cold. You probably wouldn’t have a bowl of French onion soup in July, which means you’d be unlikely to melt a thick slice of Vacherin Fribourgeois on top of such a bowl in that month, either.

This semi-firm, raw cow’s-milk cheese, another winner from Rolf Beeler, is a superb melter, as many Swiss cheeses are. (Go to town, fondue lovers!) Steven Jenkins compares it to Fontina, and I can definitely see some similarities. Though it has a washed rind, it doesn’t really have a big stink factor. Rather, the buttery, meaty flavor pleasantly coats the mouth and makes you want just one more taste. Pair it with some crusty bread (my favorite is the rustic loaf from Rustica Bakery) and snack away. A nice hunk with bread and a green salad would make a very satisfying lunch or light dinner.

Jenkins recommends enjoying Vacherin Fribourgeois with a big red wine from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley or the Piedmont. I tasted mine the other night with my unfinished can of diet ginger ale, and wouldn’t you know, that match wasn’t bad, either!

Maybe it has something to do with temperatures that can’t seem to climb above freezing around here, but I’m still craving hearty mountain cheeses. Appenzeller, another Swiss classic from Rolf Beeler, is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese brined in a centuries-old secret blend of herbs, wine and liquor.  Remarkably smooth, ideally suited for melting (think fondue), the Appenzeller has a sweet, fruity flavor and supple bite, with a spicy aftertaste. The buttery cheese has a few characteristic large holes and a hard reddish-orange rind. 

Appenzeller is ideal for cooking, or serve on a cheeseboard with sausages and bread. I layered thinly sliced Appenzeller with stone ground mustard and Pinot Grigio salami on a wheat baguette, served with cornichons on the side. Perfect for a slightly gourmet, yet still hearty, Super Bowl appetizer. Enjoy with beer of course (a German bock would be nice), or pinot gris. 

Check out this travelogue from Appenzell for a look at the cows responsible for this wonderful cheese.

Something about grey, wintery weather makes me crave a good melting cheese, and my first thought when biting into a slice of Hoch Ybrig was, “fondue!” A Swiss mountain cheese, this semi-firm cheese has a smooth texture with just a few little crystals, and a bold tang from being soaked in white wine. It is produced by acclaimed fromager Rolf Beeler in Zurich, known in cheese circles as “The Pope of Swiss Cheese,” and whose cheeses appear several times on the Wine Spectator list. Try it on a baguette with a chardonnay mustard and sliced salami for a hearty winter lunch. Its nutty flavor would pair well with a Riesling or pale beer, though I enjoyed it with some hot apple cider.

This cheese is produced in small batches only in the summer months (I guess those Alpine cattle hibernate in the winter?) so catch it while you can! I found it at Cheesetique, and online at Artisanal. There is apparently a Swiss ski resort by the same name; so whip up some Hoch Ybrig fondue and imagine you’re sitting by the fireplace after a day on the slopes.

However you ring in the New Year, we wish you nothing but the finest in cheese and life in 2009!