Swiss Tete de Moine and a Girolle are a Beautiful Combination

Tete de Moine – Switzerland

Swiss Tete de Moine

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.

Tete de Moine on the Girolle

The cutter was slid down over the post and ready to go.

Girolle with Tete de Moine ready to serve

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!

Cheese rosette made from Tete de Moine using a Girolle

The rosette can be gently lifted off of the Girolle and is ready to serve.

Cheese Rosette made from Tete de Moine using a Girolle

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!

Cheeses from Switzerland Website

Mont St. Benoit Cheese is made by Monks in Quebec

Mont St. Benoit Cheese

I found some Canadian Mont St. Benoit cheese at the Gouda For You cheese store in Barrie, Ontario.

Mont St. Benoit is a Canadian version of “Swiss Cheese”. I thought it looked similar to Emmental but several web sites describe it as a mild Grueye.

This cheese is produced by the only cheese dairy in North America run by Benedictine Monks. The Monks reside at the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac which is located in the municipality of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac on the border of the Memphemagog lake, in Quebec. It is East of Montreal and a short distance North of Vermont.

Saint-Benoit-du-Lac - image from Bing Maps

The Monastery is beautiful.

Abbay Saint Benoit - image from their website

This Benedictine Abbey, which was founded in 1912, is a working Catholic Religious order with fifty eight monks (2009) who live according to the monastic rule written by Saint Benoit.

The first cheese was created at the Abbey in 1943. There are currently ten cheeses made at the Abbey.

The Cheeses of Abbey de Saint Benoit - image from their website

In the image above, cheese #1 is the Mont St. Benoit. More information about the cheeses of the abbey can be found on their website.

Mont St. Benoit is a firm cow’s milk cheese with 31% MF and 42% MC.

The Fromages CDA Inc. website describes the cheese as follows.

The Mont St-Benoît is rindless. It is firm yet supple and elastic. It is scattered with holes or “eyes” and emits a hazelnut smell that is lightly accented by the scent of fermentation, which is typical of a Swiss cheese. Its delicate hazelnut and butter flavours will charm you. It is also an excellent cheese to cook with as it melts and browns at high temperatures.

I found the cheese mild and pleasant. I think this cheese would be delicious melted on a ham sandwich. Frankly, I found the story behind the cheese to be more exciting than the cheese.

What I really enjoy about my cheese adventure is discovering and learning. I am so glad that I tried this cheese since it introduced me to some history and geography of which I was unaware. When I have the opportunity to travel in Northern Vermont or East of Montreal I am definitely going to visit the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac.

Their cheese factory is not open to the public, however, they do maintain a store on the grounds of the monastery.  According to my research, the store also offers other products made by the monks, including: apple sauces and ciders, chocolate products, crafts and gift items.

I am so impressed by the Monastery that I’ve attached a short video showcasing the building and the grounds. It’s narrated in French but you will get the message regardless.

Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac is a beautiful place, with a wonderful story, that also produces a good cheese. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Mont Vully

Mont Vully Cheese

I had the opportunity to try some Mont Vully cheese this week while visiting my friend Mike. He had rounded up some good cheeses to try, and not the everyday stuff. I think he has “a source” or some kind of inside “cheese connection”.

Mont Vully is a cheese that comes from Switzerland. It is made at a small family dairy owned by Ewald Schafer in Cressier, a tiny village above the medieval town of Morat. The cheese is produced from raw milk. During the aging, the cheese is washed several times a week with Pinot Noir wine from the slopes of Mont Vully. The cheese reaches maturity after 10 to 20 weeks.

The rind is usually gold to red-brown in colour. The center is creamy yellow. It is semi hard with a smooth texture. It has a stronger smell than taste. It pairs well with Chardonnay.

You can recognize a wheel of Mont Vully cheese by its unique grape imprint on the top of the wheel.

Like Appenzeller, the Mont Vully is available in three grades; Classic, Bio and Reserve. The grades are a function of how long the cheese is aged. Classic is the freshest and Reserve is the most mature. Bio is aged in between. Mont Vully Bio was chosen the “Cheese of all Cheeses” at the 2006 Cheese Gala of the Swiss Cheese Championships by an international jury, beating out 436 other Swiss cheeses.

I would recommend this cheese for a cheese board. We tried it alongside Appenzeller and I found a lot of similarity between the two. It was interesting to have them side by side but I would not recommend putting them together on a cheese board because of the similarity.

Here is a link to the Mont Vully Website.

I liked it and it’s a winner. Thanks Mike and thank your “source” too!