Fribourg d’Alpage

12 04 2010

I believe I promised you all a cheese post featuring the most delicious cheese at the Coulommiers festival.  It wasn’t a Coulommiers or Brie-type cheese that stole my heart that day.  No, it was a huge wheel of mountain-grown Gruyère-style cheese named Fribourg d’Alpage.

Nomnomnom (I don't usually say things like that, but this cheese is that good.)

It seems that I have inadvertently packed up the notebook containing my tasting notes for this cheese, but I suppose that’s just as well for two reasons: one, it gives me an excuse to eat some more right now; and two, it’s such a complex cheese that every time I taste something different.  While previous tastings focused on the nutty, rich characteristics, this time it almost tasted piquant.  Also, the longer I keep it, the more pronounced the crunchy flavor crystals become (you know, like in an aged Parmigiano-Reggiano).  I suppose the flavor development could be happening because of my old friends, the cheese mites.  (I am now wondering if they are transferable, as in, could I buy some crappy Comté from Monoprix, wrap it up in some paper with a mite-riddled rind, and in a few weeks have something worth eating?)  At any rate, Fribourg d’Alpage is a flavor bomb.  Earthy, grassy, nutty, salty, with a hint of tang and a finish that leaves you salivating for more.

My attempts to find out more about this cheese on ye olde internette have yielded nothing written specifically about Fribourg d’Alpage, but many results citing Swiss Gruyères and Vacherins d’Alpage.  What I have gleaned from these is that it is a cow’s milk cheese, the milk coming from cows that graze on the mountains in the summer, producing a rich, flavorful milk.  The cheese is then aged at least 12-25 weeks to produce a semi-firm wheel.  Naturally, the longer it sits, the firmer it will be.  I honestly think this is one cheese best enjoyed completely on its own.  Really, it needs no accompaniment.

I’m just in time to send this over to the International Fête du Fromage, hosted by Chez Loulou.  The delicious round-up is posted on the 15th of every month, so be sure to stop by on Thursday for lots more cyber-cheese.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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13 responses

12 04 2010
Esme

Tasting cheese sounds like fun.

12 04 2010
Hannah

I really shouldn’t read this first thing in the morning. I woke up all excited about a return to oatmeal with vanilla soymilk and peanut butter, and now all I want is an enormous hunk of nutty piquant crystal-flecked deliciousness.

Why do you hurt me so, Camille? :D

13 04 2010
Food lover

Your description is mouth watering – looking forward to next cheese post.

13 04 2010
hungry dog

Mm. This sounds very, very good. I love that photo too!

15 04 2010
Trisha

So reading about cheese (despite your lovely description, notes or no) is just not near as satisfying as eating cheese. And I’m stuck over here stateside with whatever suits the Whole Foods’ cheese counter’s whims. They may have a lovely bucheron, but I’ve been there, done that. Enjoy!

15 04 2010
croquecamille

Esme – It always is. :)

Hannah – Why not have cheese for breakfast?

Food lover – Thanks!

hungry dog – Would you believe that’s a way cropped/zoomed in photo of the whole cheese booth? Frankly, I’m amazed it came out as clear as it did.

Trisha – I’m sorry, but if it makes you feel any better, I bet you have way better access to burritos (at least ones worth eating).

16 04 2010
Ann Mah

Wow, this sounds fantastic. I love Alpage hard cheeses. I looked in my book French Cheeses to see if there was any info on Fribourg, but nada. It does say that the alpagistes allow the herds to graze on mountain grass, ascending throughout the summer, until they reach the snow-line. They then start descending and go back home to the village on September 29, or Saint Michael’s day.

19 04 2010
croquecamille

Ann – That’s so interesting! Is there any particular significance to St. Michael’s day?

19 04 2010
Tammy McLeod

I love this post and that you can’t find it on the internette! Your writing about this cheese literally has my mouth watering. Lovely job Camille.

29 04 2010
mzimbeck

OMG, I love this cheese. I buy it every single week (as can be seen from the size of my hips) at the outdoor market near my place. And I once cited it, when asked by a French cheesemaker about my favorite French cheese. I was being ditzy, not provocative, but he turned and walked away all the same :)

2 05 2010
croquecamille

Tammy – Thank you!

mzimbeck – Wow, you’re lucky to have such a close, reliable source! Care to share which market that is?

9 05 2010
Betty C.

Hello! I have been sadly out of the blogosphere but am getting the tug back.

I love this cheese, which I have only been lucky enough to taste a few times.

I hear you got to see Loulou in Paris! Great, how fun. I’ll be seeing her in June and she will tell me about it I’m sure.

Take care and I have you back in an RSS feed so will try to drop in from time to time.

10 05 2010
croquecamille

Betty C. – Welcome back! I think it’s a cheese I will absolutely buy again the next time I see it, if they’re that few and far between!




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