by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter’
Vacherin Mont d'Or

The first weeks of the new year mean it’s the season for one of France’s greatest cheeses: Le Mont d’Or…now available in perfect ripeness at All The Best.

Le Mont d’Or is unique in that, unlike many other great cheeses that gain their distinctive flavour from rich spring and summer milk, this outrageously delicious cheese is made in the Franche-Comté region of France during the autumn and winter months from the raw milk of cows that are housed snuggly in their warm barns and fed on dried mountain grasses.

Traditionally the cheese was known in France as Vacherin Mont d’Or -named for the Alpine region that borders Switzerland where it has been made for more than two hundred years. In 1973, however, the Swiss (who have been making a similar cheese in the region for centuries) quietly took over legal rights to the name and designated their cheese with A.O.C. status within their borders. Today this superb French cheese is labeled ‘Vacherin du Haut-Doubs’ (the official name under which the cheese is now designated A.O.C.-‘appellation d’origine controlée’– in France), or simply ‘Le Mont d’Or’.

The cheese is formed into brine-washed cylinders, about 2-inches thick, and packed in wood chip boxes. Under the pinkish-gold, rippled rind the cheese develops a satiny smooth texture and a subtle flavour that is beyond compare. At peak of ripeness the interior melts to a rich, flowing consistency that is best scooped with a spoon.  Serve Mont d’Or on a platter, by itself, as a featured dessert with fresh, sweet fruit …and raise a glass to 2011… with Champagne, of course!

All the best and Happy New Year,