Vacherin Mont D’Or
07 January 2018
The ultimate in winter luxury, this fantastic gooey cheese, served meltingly hot and luscious from the oven, is one of those seasonal indulgences I try to get in at least once per year. And for 2018, that was today. I spotted some on the cheese stall at Norwich market, reduced in price because the cheese was one day past its date. Well, no French man would let such a detail get in the way of such fabulous cheese, and I wasn’t going to either.
There’s some confusion about how to get the real deal, due to some kerfuffle between the French and the Swiss about how the cheese is made, and what it’s called. The Swiss version is made from pasteurised cheese and is called Vacherin Mont D’Or. The French version is made from unpasteurised cheese - indeed it’s referred to as the holy grail of raw milk cheeses - and the small individual versions are simply called Mont D’Or or Vacherin du Haute Doubs. You want the unpasteurised ones (Lait Cru). They are one of life’s joys.
The cheeses are ripened in wooden boxes, which apparently helps to flavour the cheese. They are then baked in them (without the lid).
The usual way to prepare them is to poke a few slits in the crust on the top and slide in some thinly sliced garlic. Then pour a little white wine over the top and bake in the oven (180ºC fan oven, 190ºC otherwise) until the cheese is beautiful and runny soft - 20-30 minutes should do it. My one today was a slight variation on that theme - the garlic went in for sure, but so did some young bits of rosemary and I didn’t bother with the wine on this occasion. The end result was still fabulous.
I ate it just dipping roughly torn hunks of french bread. People use cornichons and ham, but for me I just wanted all my focus on the cheese.
It is one of life’s cruel jokes that this is a cheese produced only in these winter months (because during the summer the cows produce more milk and less creamy, which goes into Comté cheese) - which is probably precisely when you’re on a diet. Any diet should have a 1-day break clause permitting the consumption of this for an indulgent lunch. Something to bear in mind.