Tete de Moine – Switzerland
A few of the cheese heads in my neighborhood decided that a Monday night cheese meeting was in order. Cheese is a good excuse to get together and compare and share our favorite cheeses.
One of the cheeses that showed up at the gathering was Tete de Moine. This was a cheese I had never tried, or even seen before.
It was dense, heavy and wrapped in foil.
Tete de Moine is a cheese imported from Switzerland. It has a picture of monks on the label. The main monk has a wheel of cheese and he looks to be cutting a piece off. The cheese is decorated with some flowers or garnish. Nice picture but I don’t give it much notice at first. There is significance to the picture as I was about to discover.
My neighbor explained that Tete de Moine has a rich history. The cheese is made by monks and has been called Tete De Moine since 1790 but it has an origin dating back to 1192. There is a thorough history of the cheese on the Tete de Moine website.
I suggested we give it a try. I reached for a knife to cut a small piece. My neighbor who brought the cheese stopped me and said “Don’t cut it with a knife … use a Girolle”.
“A what?” I said.
Then he brought out the secret weapon … a boxed Girolle.
I had no idea what a Girolle is. He pulled out the Girolle and quickly assembled it.
Next he cuts the Tete de Moine into two equal halves and places one of the halves onto the post of the Girolle.
The cutter was slid down over the post and ready to go.
He began rotating the cutter and VIOLA a beautiful shaving of Tete de Moine forms. It looks like a flower … it reminded me of a Carnation. The cheese was turned into a work of art. It was a very impressive presentation!
The rosette can be gently lifted off of the Girolle and is ready to serve.
Talk about a show stopper. I’ve never seen cheese presented like this. It takes cheese entertaining to the next level.
Tete de Moine is made in Switzerland from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It takes 10 litres of high-quality milk to make 1 kg of Tete de Moine cheese. The milk is taken to the processing dairy TWICE a day to ensure the freshness. The milk is processed within 24 hours of milking. The cheese is processed, formed and immersed into a brine bath for 12 hours. The brine expells water and begins the formation of the rind for the maturing process. The Cheese blocks are placed on Pine boards and then matured for at least 75 days in a special environment. The blocks are turned and cared for regularly.
The Tete de Moine is a fairly strong cheese. It has a wonderful alpine milk taste that reminds me of Gruyere only stronger and more pungent. My neighbor recommended placing a small dollop of fig spread into the center of the flower. That was a great suggestion because the sweetness of the fig spread balanced the bite and calmed the pungency of the cheese. It was a wonderful marriage of flavours.
The Girolle turned the cheese into a very nice consistency. The delicate shavings would melt on my tongue. I would compare the effect of the shaved cheese to the difference between eating a chunk of lunch meat verses a shaved lunch meat. Personally I prefer the thinly sliced or shaved meat because it seems to enhance he flavor and improve the texture. Same thing with the Tete de Moine.
The Tete de Moine is a very good cheese but it is turned into something special when prepared using the Girolle.
I’m adding the Tete de Moine to my growing list of favorite cheeses. This is a cheese that would not only be good at a party, it could become the center of attention.
Thanks neighbor for introducing me to this amazing cheese!