This Ain’t Your Momma’s Swiss Cheese
Emmentaler is the single most iconic Swiss cheese, but I bet you’ve never eaten one like this before. Over the years, generic Swiss cheese has flooded the market, making the true OG a severely endangered species. But those bland, rubbery, shrink-wrapped imitations have nothing on the real Emmentaler.
Today there is but one traditional Emmentaler left: Gotthelf Slow Food Emmentaler AOP from Gourmino Cheese, the last producer and affineur of this cheese in the Emmental valley.
Take a gander at this stud: those handsome round holes adorning the golden, crystal-flecked paste. I wish you could smell his sweet, buttery curd, taste his mouth-filling savor of mountain grass and ripe stone fruits, and experience his peppery kick—just enough to keep your toes curled.
Making Emmentaler in the traditional “slow food” method is, not surprisingly, an extremely slow, difficult undertaking that has been largely discarded over the past few decades for more profitable processes.
Often referred to as a “lost cheese,” Emmentaler AOP is made by husband and wife team Bernhard Meier and Marlies Zaugg, both of whom are Master Cheese Makers.
Gourmino Emmentaler is made with raw milk delivered straight from the udder once or twice a day. The cows graze on a variety of grasses, wild flowers, herbs or fresh hay—never any filler. The cheese is made by hand in open vats, meaning the milk is fermented with self-produced cultures from whey of the cheese—similar to the use of a “mother” culture in sourdough or kombucha. They only make about two 200-lb. wheels of Emmentaler each day.
When you sink your teeth into a wedge of Emmentaler cut fresh from those monstrous wheels, you’re taking a bite of hundreds of years of Swiss culture and supporting a small village dairy and cheesemaker. Now that is one romantic cheese.
There is nothing wrong with other Swiss cheeses, but they can’t compare to the full flavor and romantic history of this authentic Emmentaler AOP. Each wheel is a celebration of Swiss cheesemaking culture, and it’s worth seeking out.
Take a bite of this buttery curd, and I think you’ll agree. This guy is something special.
The Gotthelf Label Slow Food Emmentaler
Milk: raw cow
Maker: Hupfenboden dairy
Origin: Emmental, Switzerland
Palate level: beginner
Price: $24-28 per pound
Profile: spring onion, honey, sweet butter, ripe stone fruit
Pairings: dry cider, hoppy beer, pickles