Cheese of the Week - Vacherin Mont d'Or

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All this talk of turkeys makes me think of...cheese! Nothing says fall like Vacherin Mont d'Or, a small washed rind round made in the Alps on both sides of the French/Swiss border. Also known as Vacherin du Haut-Doubs (but not to be confused with Vacherin Fribourgeois), it is traditionally made with late-season cow's milk that is too high in fat and protein content to make Comté or Gruyère. Because of this the cheese is aged for a much shorter period of time than Comté and Gruyère, and so peak ripeness is usually seen in the fall and winter months (October through March). At peak ripeness, the cheese is soft and runny, and is therefore wrapped in a spruce band and shipped in a circular wooden box. Since the cheese spends a fair amount of time in this environment, the wood lends a subtle flavor to the finished cheese. The golden rind, which still shows imprints from the cheesecloth used during production, hides a pale yellow, unctuous yet mild paste. The cow's milk used to make Vacherin Mont d'Or is typically raw, but since the cheese is only aged for three weeks, specimens found in the US are necessarily pasteurized. Enjoy with a Beaujolais Nouveau, another autumnal delight!