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Let’s talk about cheese. Mont d’Or. Like most cheeses, it is named after where it comes from. This place is named Gold Mountain because of the cliffs in this mountainous area which reflect the golden light of the setting sun. By the way, the mountain range is named Jura which gave rise to the name of a geological period – Jurassic – which is in turn made famous by the dinosaur movies – Jurassic Park 1, 2….

Mont d’Or, or Vacherin du Haut-Doubs, from France, or Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland is a soft, rich, seasonal cheese made from cow’s milk in villages of the Jura region. Both cheeses are strictly controlled by its Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) or Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) and there were histories of rivalry between the two countries.

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The French version has a grayish-yellow washed rind and contains 45 to 50 percent milk fat and is produced between August 15 and March 15, and sold between September 10 and May 10. We checked before going on a September weekend. It was a cross-border day trip up the Jura mountains from Lausanne. Our friend F joined us and we left shortly after lunch on a sunny fall day.

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The Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or is generally made with pasteurised milk, while the French Vacherin du Haut-Doubs is unpasteurised. That means the French version is illegal in the US and one should expect it to be confiscated by customs if it is discovered.

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The cheese is traditionally made in the winter months when the cows come down from Alpage and there is not enough milk to make Comte. It is marketed in round boxes of various diameters made of spruce, and often served warmed in its original packaging and eaten like fondue.

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The destination of our little trip was the Sancey Richard Fromagerie in the town of Metabief, no more than one hour drive from Lausanne. The cheese factory contains an exhibit of their old equipment as well as a short film about its history.

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They also constructed a viewing area where one can see in a hygienic way how the cheeses are made. This area is for making Comte and Morbier.

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The grand dame of the family that owns the fromagerie received the National Order of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier légion d’honneur) presumably for her family’s contribution to the local cheese-making culture.

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Attached to the factory is the shop (fromagerie) that was doing brisk business. We bought 2 Mont d’Or, about 0.3 kg of each of Comte Fruite and Comte Vieux as well as a wedge of Bleu de Gex.

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In the shop, we were most impressed by this hydraulically-operated, laser-guided cheese cutter (see the line of red light). Very professional and lethal !

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We started snacking on the Comte as soon as we walked out. It is one of our favorite cheeses.

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Back home that evening, we pushed several pieces of whole garlic into the cheese and poured some white wine into a little well we dug in the middle. After 25 minutes in the oven, it melted and we ate it like a mini fondue with potatoes and charcuterie also from the Franche-Comté area.

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Great local-style dinner, fine wine and good company. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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