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

Vacherine Mont D’Or – Like Brie with Balls

Vacherine Mont D'Or

When I came across this cheese at the The Cheese Boutique I was informed that the “season was over”. Season? What season? I only thought there were four seasons.

But having tried Vacherine Mont D’Or I now recognize five seasons. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and Vacherine Mont D’Or cheese season.

This cheese is a gooder (if that is a real word). For me, it was another step up the ladder of cheese nirvana.

Vacherine Mont D’Or is only produced between August 15 and March 15, and sold between September 10 and May 10. In other words, it is a limited edition cheese and this was the last batch available from The Cheese Boutique until next year.

Vacherine Mont D’Or is a cow’s milk cheese. In 1981 it earned a classification as an AOC (Attestation of Origin) cheese. This cheese is produced in Switzerland and France in the Jura mountain region. While researching this cheese I discovered a lot of  confusion about whether this cheese is of Swiss Origin or French Origin. It ends up that it is both, due to shifting political borders in the area where the cheese is made. I found a great online article which explores that subject in depth at Practically Edible.

Vacherine Mont D’Or should be served at room temperature whereby it becomes very soft. It can be eaten like a fondue. It literately oozes out of the rind. I hope you can see that in the picture.

But let’s cut to the chase. What does Vacherine Mont D’Or taste like?

Oh boy, I fell in love with this one. It has a smell that does NO justice to the taste. In fact, the smell was unpleasant to me. It’s a stinker and it smells RIPE. I’m not talking about a fruity sweet and good ripe. Nope this one smells like it’s rotten, take it to the curb, ripe.

Trust me, don’t let the smell stop you. The flavor is amazing.  It is rich and smooth with a unique flavor very distant from the smell. This stuff was addicting. I ate some and it confused my palette. It smells bad, it tastes good, how can this be? Then I had to have some more, to figure it out. Then I had more, and more, and more. I didn’t want to stop.

The only thing I really figured out was that this is one fantastic cheese. This is a cheese that I would serve to guests to WOW them. They will balk at the smell and then I’ll get to watch their legs go weak as they try it. I think Vacherine Mont D’Or is a cheese that you will not forget.

Here is a point of comparison. If you’ve tried Brie then Vacherine Mont D’Or looks like Brie. It is gooey-er than Brie. It is stinkier than Brie. It is Brie’s big brother … on steriods. Vacherine Mont D’Or is Brie with balls.

Try this one next season if you get the chance.

Here is the official Vacherine Mont D’Or website.

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!


I was visiting a friend and he knows I enjoy cheese. He brought out two bottles of Port, Rosenborg Blue Cheese, Swiss Appenzeller and Swiss Mont Vully. I brought German Cambozola and Greek Kasseri.

After taking a few pictures (he knows I’m a blogger) we did some serious tasting and enjoying. But this post is specifically about the Appenzellar. I’ll be posting about the Cambozola and Mont Vully later.

This is a picture of the Appenzeller.


Appenzeller cheese is produced in Northeast Switzerland. It is made from cow’s milk and is a hard cheese. An herbal brine is applied to cheese during curing to promote the rind. There are 75 dairies producing Appenzeller. This is a pretty good photo because it shows the small holes and the golden rind. It smells strong but it does not taste as strong as it smells. It melts nicely on the tongue and is smooth. It had taste characteristics similar to the Mont Vully. It was mildly salty, earthy, nutty and lightly fruity. I could not decide if I preferred the Appenzeller or the Mont Vully. They are a bit different but I liked them both in a way I find hard to describe.

The Appenzeller is sold in three varieties.

Classic – in a silver wrapper aged 3-4 months (that is what we tried)
Surchoix – in a Gold wrapper aged 4-6 months
Extra – in a Black wrapper aged six months or longer

The official Appenzeller page is here.

The Appenzeller is a great cheese and a good addition to a cheese plate. It is very different from the cheddar cheeses many people are used to tasting. It is a bit strong and may not appeal to everybody. It did pair very nicely with the Graham’s 2003 Port.