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French Alpine Cheeses

Alpine cheeses are among our favorites! What’s not to like??? They are fruity, buttery, nutty, and packed with flavor. And they melt like a dream.

Made high in the mountains from the milk of animals that graze on luxurious mountain meadows, Alpine cheeses boast a rich, complex flavor. Our three cheeses this week hail from eastern France’s Jura and Franche-Comte regions.

Centuries-old traditions and methods are what make Alpine cheeses unlike any other. Taste an Alpine cheese and you’ll taste cheeses most commonly described as fruity, nutty, grassy, and buttery.

The unique taste comes from the milk and the land upon which the animals graze. Each summer, farmers and their families along with their herd of animals make an annual trek to lush mountain pastures, where the animals feast on seasonal plants and grasses. The resulting milk is high quality and high in butterfat. At the end of summer, humans and animals make the trek down the mountain to their home. This process is known as transhumance.

We cheese lovers owe a debt of gratitude to these rugged individuals who endure isolation and hardship to bring us exceptional cheeses.

And here’s today’s fun fact: Jurassic and many other Alpine cheeses are made in large wheels because after making that trek it just made sense to make fewer large wheels than many smaller wheels. They need to be flipped weekly, then monthly, to keep the moisture even throughout the wheel. Since some of these wheels can weigh upwards of 80 lbs., that’s a lot of work!

What’s YOUR favorite cheese? Write and tell us why: [email protected]


Jurassic Tastings Gourmet MarketJurassic

Produced in a small dairy in the Jura mountains of France, Jurassic is renowned for its tangy and fruity flavor. The cheese is made from raw milk contributed by Montbéliarde cows, a breed raised primarily for cheese. Only summer milk is used as that’s when the cows are treated to tasty mountain meadows and the resulting milk is uber delicious.

The cheese is washed in brine twice a week for a year. The washed rind gives the cheese its rich fruity aroma.

Origin: France (Jura region)
Milk: Raw cow
Rennet Type: Animal
Rind: Natural
Age: 8 months
Look: Ivory paste covered with a natural rind
Feel: Semi-hard, smooth
Smell: Rich, floral
Taste: Fruity (perfect for Burgundy wines)
Pairs well with: Apples, grapes, pears. Also goes well in sauces and with white meats and fish.
Tastes good with: Côte de Beaune – Mâcon, Cabernet Franc, Champagne, Shiraz

Petit Sapin Tastings Gourmet MarketPetit Sapin

Petit Sapin (“little fir tree”) is presented in a wooden box with a strip of Spruce around it, which lends it a woodsy, nutty flavor. The strip also helps hold the cheese together.

The cheese is similar to Vacherin Mont d’Or and is a special treat when warmed:

Pop it into a 375-degree oven, leaving the box and strip intact, and covered completely with foil. To ensure the strip stays put, secure it with a metal clip (which you will need to carefully remove). Remove the top rind, stud the cheese with garlic and herbs, splash it with a quarter cup of Chardonnay or a strong Ale, and heat until it is thoroughly warmed and runny (20-30 mins.). Serve it on a plate with slices of baguette and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable appetizer. You can even eat it with a spoon!

Food writer David Lebovitz described the experience as “life altering.” “When baked, it’s like a brain wreck of everything going on – fat, funk, fresh cream, wood, garlic, rank, and a peculiar buttery sharpness scrambling all of your senses together in each single mouthful.” We KNOW you are going to try this.

Origin: France (Franche-Comte region)
Producer: Jean Perrin
Milk: Pasteurized cow
Rennet Type: Animal
Rind: Washed. What makes washed rind cheeses so alluring? 
Age: 1 month
Look: Ivory interior. An 8 oz. cheese in a wooden box.
Feel: Soft, smooth, silky
Smell: Lactic, creamy
Taste: Buttery and woodsy, with notes of almonds and vanilla and a creamy aftertaste
Pairs well with: Baguette, grapes
Tastes good with: Sancere, Chardonnay, Gewürtztraminer, Champagne, or beer

Prefere de Reblochon Tastings Gourmet MarketPrèfèrè de Reblochon

Prèfèrè is essentially a pasteurized version of Reblochon, the famous French raw milk cheese from Savoie. The FDA prohibits raw milk cheese from entering the U.S. if it has been aged for fewer than 60 days, and, alas, Reblochon is aged for only four-five weeks. But fear not! Prèfèrè is the perfect substitute: The flavor profile is essentially the same, with the Reblochon’s taste being more forward.

Prèfèrè is a Brie-style cheese and is delightfully creamy and smooth. It’s got a great flavor and is perfect for fondue.

   France (Jura region)
Producer: Fromage Marquis
Milk: Pasteurized cow
Rennet Type: Animal
Age: 1-2 months
Rind: Washed. What’s so great about that? 
Look: Sticky, orangey-white rind; butter-colored paste
Feel: Soft, creamy
Smell: A faint stinkyness (not overpowering).
Taste: Hazelnuts, buttery, some pungency
Pairs well with: A baguette, crackers, or on a ham or turkey sandwich made with rustic bread.
Tastes good with: Beaujolais, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc

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