I never thought I’d write an entire article on my mortal enemy, cheese, unless it was to destroy its reputation among the international community. Never say never, I suppose, as our journey through Switzerland unearths a bulk of dairy options. Here are some lesser known facts about Swiss cheeses:
While most people immediately think of Swiss cheese (you know, the one with holes in it) when Switzerland’s fromage production is brought up, the country is actually responsible for a number of varieties – 450 different types, in fact. The long list includes: · Appenzeller, Berner Alpkäse, Emmental, Gruyère, L’Etivaz, Raclette, Sbrinz, Schabziger, Tête de Moine, Tilsit, and Vacherin. The cheeses are classified by structure and fall into hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft, and the all-important other category. There’s even a Federation of Swiss Cheese Producers.
Cheese Fondue has been recognized as Switzerland’s national dish. Sadly, it is the one fondue creation I do not enjoy, but it thrills Mrs. Sip… even more than my Adonis-esque body does! Some popular fondue recipes include: Neuchâteloise (gruyère and emmental), Moitié-moitié (gruyère and Fribourg vacherin), Vaudoise (gruyere), Fribourgeoise (Fribourg vacherin using potatoes instead of bread), Innerschweiz (gruyère, emmental, and sbrinz), Appenzeller (appenzeller cheese with cream), Tomato (gruyère, emmental, crushed tomatoes, and wine), Spicy (gruyère, red and green peppers, and chili), and Mushroom (gruyère, Fribourg vacherin, and mushrooms).
Similar to fondue, raclette involves melting cheese on a grill or plate and slicing off the melted bits as they become softer. There are even special grills meant specifically for this process and I bet Mrs. Sip will buy one before I ever get my deep fryer.
Swiss cheese should be enjoyed at room temperature and thus, it is recommended that it be removed from the fridge 30 minutes prior to eating. There are a number of different pairings that best allow Swiss cheese to be enjoyed. This includes fruit (apples, pears, strawberries, grapes); deli meat, such as ham and corned beef, as well as prosciutto, pastrami, salami and bratwurst; and spicy condiments like mustard and horseradish. On the drink front, it is recommended that Swiss cheese be washed down by beverages such as cranberry or raspberry juice and even tomato juice.
Have you ever wondered why Swiss cheese has its trademark holes? No, neither have I, but I’m here to explain it anyway. Apparently, when the gases in the cheese expand during its ripening, this causes the holes, also known as “eyes” to form.
Le Gruyère Premier Cru is a special variety of Swiss cheese that is matured for 14 months in caves with a humidity of 95%. It is the only cheese to win Best Cheese of the Year four times at the World Cheese Awards. If I was ever sent a press pass for this event, I would return it promptly along with a letter declaring my contempt for the award ceremony and cheese, in general.
Apparently, there’s also the Cheese World Championships in Wisconsin of all places. It was there in 2006 that Emmentaler Switzerland Premier Cru (also aged for 14 months in humid caves) was the first cheese from Switzerland to earn the title of World Champion. I wonder if the distinction comes with a mini championship belt like in professional wrestling or boxing!?
Some general cheese facts: The term “big cheese” referred to someone with enough cash money to buy a whole wheel of cheese. The remains of cheese (I would murder it too) have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to over 4,000 years ago. Can you imagine one of those CSI losers going through a dark, dank tomb with their little flashlights and coming upon a hunk of rotten cheese and dropping some stupid line about it before a Who rock anthem breaks the boredom and launches the opening credits! Lastly, Queen Victoria was given a massive cheddar cheese wheel as a wedding gift. The wheel weighed over 1,000 pounds and was consumed over her lifetime… that may not be factually accurate, however.
Switzerland: Golden Delicious
- 1.5 oz Goldschlager
- Top with Sparkling Apple Cider
- Garnish with an Apple Slice
Well, I made it through that entire post about cheese without yacking all over my keyboard. Small victories, my little sippers… small victories!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of cider. It just seems like a step down from beer and wine and drinks like that. That said, I enjoyed this cocktail, which seemed enhanced by the shot of Goldschlager. It was scrumptious with a nice little bite at the end thanks to the Cinnamon Schnapps!