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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tete De Moine Cheese - Real Gourmet Swiss Cheese

by Michael Binetti


Tete de Moine Cheese is what defines a real gourmet Swiss cheese. It is only produced in nine particular dairies in the northwestern portion of the Swiss Alps called the Bernese Jura, a part of Switzerland where French is predominantly spoken.

According to history, Tete de Moine was thought to have been produced by the monks at the Bellelay abbey dating as far back as 1192 that is why it is commonly referred to as the "Cheese of the Monks". However, its production and sales were only fully noted not until 1520. Originally, it was called Fromage Bellelay after the place where it was produced but was then renamed in 1970.

The literal English translation of Tete de Moine is "monks head". The term refers to the bald heads of the monks in the Bellelay as well as to the wheels of cheese paid by the citizens to the French kings as tax.

Lightly cooked, Tete de Moine is made from pressed and unpasteurized cow's milk. The milk used to produce the Tete de Moine is delivered to the local dairy twice a day to make sure that it is fresh. The milk is then processed within modern facilities but without forgetting traditional cheese making methods. Although the taste of the Tete de Moine is very similar to other Swiss cheeses, the Swiss government emphasizes that it is NOT a factory made cheese.

Tete de Moine is served in small wheels and is cut using a griolle - a tool that allows perfect shaving of the cheese with minimum effort. It has either a sticky or a hard brown outer rind that depends on the dairy. Its interior paste is firm and comes in straw color, but darkens as it ages. The unique feature of this cheese is that it ages from the outside to the inside, so the part closer to the rind looks darker or browner. This feature is often mistaken by some first time tasters as a sign of poor quality.

One very distinctive feature is its aroma. Aside from its natural brown edges, it gives off a very delectable smell even before cutting it. It smells like roasted nuts mixed with earthy wine with a hint of musty wood that will transform any room into a cheese heaven. When you taste it you will get a full bodied flavor as well as very complex notes of nuts and sweet fruit.

Ask any cheese monger, and they will tell you that this cheese has much more flavor and smells greater than Emmental and Gruyere. If you are looking for a real gourmet Swiss mountain style cheese, then the Tete de Moine is your best choice. Go and try one today!

Buy Tete de Moine and other Swiss cheese from New York's trusted cheese shop. For any questions about our cheese call us toll free at 1800-382-0109.

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