The approach of colder months marks the re-emergence of spruce-wrapped cheeses like Rush Creek Reserve and Winnimere. While these cheeses would be a delicious treat year-round, they are released only during the winter. Keep reading to learn more about their origins and why they're so highly seasonal, and learn some tips for serving these highly sought-after holiday treats!
Both cheeses are based on the iconic Vacherin Mont d'Or, a Swiss (and/or French, if you want to get technical) cheese traditionally made from cow's milk and traditionally wrapped in spruce bark, which imparts a subtle woodsy flavor to the cheese. Vacherin Mont d'Or is a seasonal cheese that is only produced during the colder months when the cows have come down from high altitude pastures and eat dry hay rather than fresh grass, resulting in milk that is richer and fattier, and perfect for making Vacherin Mont d'Or. With a silky, luscious paste and woodsy flavors reminiscent of fresh grass, cultured butter, and even bacon, these wheels are ideal for sharing during a cozy night inside.
If you're lucky enough to get your hands on a wheel, here are some serving tips:
1. Wait until the wheel is "a point," which is French for "at peak ripeness". This guarantees that you will be able to dig into a perfectly gooey, savory, and luxurious cheese.
3. Sharing is caring! Invite some friends over to share the experience with you. They will likely fall in love with the cheese too!
4. Rush Creek Reserve and Winnimere are both wonderful baked in the oven for a few minutes with some garlic cloves stuck inside and a glug of white wine on top, as they would be served in Switzerland.
5. If you're serving the cheese by itself, make sure to bring to room temperature first so that you get the full experience of the texture and flavor. When you're ready to serve, use a thin knife to cut and peel off the top of the cheese, and scoop out the creamy interior. Serve with roasted root vegetables, crusty bread, sausages, or anything else you want to dip!