March’s Cheese of the month: Gruyere
Gruyère cheese, which takes its name from the Swiss alpine town from which it originates, has been around since the 13 century, and become loved worldwide as a fantastic melting cheese and a cheeseboard connoisseur’s favourite. It is an important contributor to that bubbling deliciousness that you can’t stop dipping your bread into in your fondue, it’s the yummy topping to your French onion soup, and is also the cheese used in that irresistibly gooey middle bit of your classic croque monsieur. A fine cheese for baking, it also adds flavour to quiches without overpowering the other ingredients.
The distinctive taste of the cheese is largely attributed to the quality of the grazing areas of the cows, which roam freely in meadows cushioned between freshwater streams and the rolling hill sides of the Fribourg Pre-Alps region. The unpasteurized milk is then incorporated in the strict traditional production methods developed over centuries by the cheese-makers of the region and matured in cellars. Each wheel of cheese is marked as ‘Gruyère AOP’.
Sweet and slightly salty, when you taste Gruyère, you’ll find it starts off fruity and then journeys to more earthy, nutty flavours, these final flavours are also more prominent as the cheese matures over time. The texture also changes with maturation; it starts off dense and becomes flaky and somewhat granular as it ages. When fully aged (between 5 months to 3 years, depending on the variety of Gruyère) you have a dense, grainy cheese with small cracks and a more assertive, complex flavour.
How to eat it:
Melt in a sandwich with good quality ham, or grate and sprinkle on pasta. Add to a cheeseboard and match with a glass of sparkling cider, bock beer or Chardonnay.
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