Time to explore the world of cheese as each month we meet a cheese; get to know more about them and tempt you to try them next time you’re looking for something different or new in your cheese life. With the onset of winter, Melbourne is huddling into the warming embrace of the best cheeses that melt and ooze cheesy yumminess…welcome to the table the best melting cheese, Gruyere.
Gruyere, pronounced “groo- yair”, really comes into it’s own over the winter months in toasties, quiches, burgers, pasta, soups, fondue, vegetables …any where you are looking for a cheese that easily melts.
OK, so it’s a versatile winter cheese but what else do we need to know?
Where are you from?
A great question as I am best known for being an Alpine cheese from the Gruyere region of Switzerland close to the Franco- Swiss border. While known for being a Swiss cheese, my Alpine peasant origins from the 12 Century means I am closely related to French cheeses such as Comte and Beaufort and there’s even an Austrian version.
In fact, the word Gruyere is recognised as the property of both Switzerland and France but I was granted protection and geographic status(AOC) status in 2001 as a Swiss cheese.
That of course, doesn’t mean I am only made in Switzerland. In Australia, you are lucky to have the best gruyere cheeses imported as well as locally made. Heidi Farm in Burnie, northern Tasmania have even won several Grand Champion Cheese awards.
So tell us a little more about yourself?
You might know me as a Swiss cheese but I am not the Swiss cheese with holes, to be totally correct, that’s Emmental. That said though, I am reportedly the most popular cheese in Switzerland with 15,000 tons sold in 2018. I am known for my firm texture, rich creamy, slightly nutty taste and my ability to easily melt due to my high water to fat ratio. In my youth, 6-9 months, I am smooth and mild but from 10-24 months as I mature, I develop a stronger, more earthy, assertive and complex taste. Did I mention that I am made from unpasteurised cow milk? You shouldn’t be worried though. I have been rigorously tested before entering Australia and my AOP status means that I am subject to strict production guidelines and processes.
Speaking of milk, is it true that you are lactose free?
Yes, I am quite proud to be part of a select club of hard, aged cheeses that are lower in lactose. In my production, the whey that contains most of the lactose is thoroughly drained away and any remaining lactose in the curds is used up by propionic bacteria responsible for for my nutty, sweetness.
Gruyere is certainly best known around the world as the best melting cheese but what else can you be used for?
You can certainly eat a young Gruyere on its own, use in a cheese platter or accompanied by crisp apple or pear, dates, fig paste or jam, dried apricots or nuts like roasted hazelnut & cashews (to bring out the nutty flavours). If you’d like a meaty option you can add prosciutto or a good ham. Keep the crackers plain though to really appreciate my complex flavours.
When it comes to serving you with a drink, what would you suggest?
With my creamy texture my wine suggestions would be something like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot or even a nice cream Sherry. If you’re not into wine though you could try an apple or pear cider, a brown or amber ale and even a single malt scotch!
My final question, I’d really like to taste the Gruyere before I buy, can you suggest where in Melbourne please?
Kev at The Corner Larder at the Queen Victoria Market keeps me in stock and he’s only too happy to let you try both the Swiss Belfaux Dairy Gruyere and the Heide Farm Gruyere so you can work out which is best before you buy. So much now though is online and if you’d like to order a small piece, 100g of the real deal Swiss Gruyere, you can use the Queen Victoria Market Online too!