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« Wine, no cheese? | Main | Vacanza »

March 02, 2006

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Comments

maki

The reason that Emmentaler outside of Switzerland is often lackluster is probably because of two reasons: the properly aged ones aren't sold, and there are so many Emmentaler (aka Swiss Cheese) imitations. I have seen Emmentaler that is so young and bland that it's like plastic sold in the U.S., such as at the famed allegedly gourmet supermarket chain Whole Foods.

Sbrinz is a lovely cheese - it's often served shaved into very thin slices, sort of like pencil shavings.

Bettina

Even for a Swiss person, this is really nice and interesting to read.

Next time you are in Switzerland, check out the city of Luzern and the following cheese store:

CHÄS BARMETTLER
HERTENSTEINSTR. 2
6004 LUZERN
SCHWEIZ
Tel. +41 (0) 41 410 21 88

Plus, the food market in Luzern takes place every Tuesday and Saturday. I always buy my Sbrinz from a old man, who makes his own cheese up in the mountains - can't be better.

Ed McGaugh

Ciao Alberto,
Thanks for writing about this!! I have been living in Switzerland for seven years and I think I have tried every cheese I could get my hands on and as far as I am concerned the finest cheese in Switzerland is the aged Berg Käse, different from Alp Käse in that Alp Käse encompasses a much wider definition of cheese. Berg Käse is only from the very highest pastures and almost none of it ever makes it out of here. The best are a couple of years old. The flavor varied wildly but it is all exceptional. Every Fall we have Chästeilets (cheese festivals that are really worth the trip...here is more info:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodswitzerland/message/123

http://real.xobix.ch/ramgen/sis/2004/dividingcheese.rm?start=0:00:00.0&end=0:01:46.1

Astrid

Thanks for this post. We moved to Zurich from Paris about two years ago. I personally dote upon a good aged Gruyere. But still, we have been a bit disappointed by what to us seems like a lack of variety in cheeses here. We're not experts, and haven't researched this a lot, but basically it seems to us like it's mostly hard yellow cheeses here. True, they're more or less elastic, more or less sharp, and have different flavors, but in our view French cheese types vary much more in terms of consistency, color, shape, smell and flavor. Go to a nice restaurant in France and look at the cheese wagon, and part of the appeal is the visual variety it offers.

Nadia

Thankfully Swiss affineur Rolf Beeler has done a lot for the quality of export Swiss cheeses. In New York we have the luxury of the finest Hoch Ybrig, Gruyere, and Prattigauer, to name a few, thanks to the Beeler touch...
Any New Yorkers reading this should visit the Artisanal Bistro to buy the very best.

Alberto

Maki, I pretty much agree with the reasons for poor Emmenthaler, though I must admit that I've had some fantastic French fermier Emmenthaler. Not all imitations are that bad... not that the French would admit that their cheese is an imitation ;-). Definitely with you regarding Sbrinz!

Bettina, thank you for the kind words and for the tip. I'm not often in Luzern, but next time I'll definitely bring your tips with me.

Ed, thanks for the info, might be the chance to plan another Swiss trip! BTW, are you still in Piemonte?

Alberto

Astrid, I think one has to consider that which the French call terroir when thinking about cheese, just as one would do when thinking about wine. France has a wide varietiy of terroirs, which produce a wide variety of cheeses: you just need to think of Normandy pastures, Alpine ones, those in the Pyrenees and so on. Each has different pastures, a different socio-political history and a different farm animal tradition. With that in mind France's many different cheese kinds are not a surprise.

On the other hand, while the difference between Swiss cheeses might be minimal at times, it is surprising how many valleys have managed to develop a peculiar and unique tradition in a land which geografically does not have such huge differences. For me that is a sign of a profound love for cheese and I like that a lot.

Nadia, thanks for the tip for the NYers!

Astrid

You are right, the Swiss deserve credit for the variety they have. I'll try to become more knowledgeable about Swiss cheeses during my stay here in Switzerland!

Cate O'Malley

Great article. I always thought France had more ... maybe it's because I grew up with a Paris-born mother. ;) Thanks for all the info!

Ed McGaugh

>>Ed, thanks for the info, might be the chance to plan another Swiss trip! BTW, are you still in Piemonte?<<

Ciao Alberto,
We are back and forth between here and the Piemonte. Either way come on down!!!! We would love to see you again!!!
Edorovio

Ed McGaugh

>>On the other hand, while the difference between Swiss cheeses might be minimal at times, it is surprising how many valleys have managed to develop a peculiar and unique tradition in a land which geographically does not have such huge differences. For me that is a sign of a profound love for cheese and I like that a lot.<<

Valleys??? You have to come down for a local Chäseteilet and you will see the huge differences between cheeses made within 500 meters of each other.

Lady Amalthea

I never knew anything about Swiss cheeses other than emmenthaler of which, like you, I am not a big fan. Now I'll have to check some out! And it's so true about Artisanal in NYC--they have an amazing cheese selection, though I've only ever had their French cheeses. Next time I'll check out some of their Swiss ones.

Tony-Bachelor cooking

The Cheese are WOW!!!!!!!!!! I made cottage cheese sometimes lol

Cyndi

One of the things I like about Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes here in the US is that I can get raclette--a cheese that I must have eaten once a week when we lived in Germany. When I'd go to Switzerland on vacation, I'd make sure to get raclette with whatever accompaniments were available--potatoes, bacon, pickle, mushroom. I'll have to try some different cheeses at TJ's - "expand my horizons" now that I've read your post. Thanks for all the great info.

chuck e cheese

Berg kase, Alp kase, Beeler Vacherin Fribourg, Sbrinz, Gruyere, Emmenthaler, Seelisberger, Wildmannli, Prattigauer, all the Barmettler and Beeler soft ripened gems and stinkers blah blah blah blog blog blog. No trips to Switzerland necessary (but deeply..i mean deeply.. dreamt about)All these at a tiny shop in a former girdle factory in Brooklyn NY. God bless the Swiss...and the savvy folks who get it to us...you're the best Charlotte. Do I still owe u that 70 bucks now...hah

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