I love cheese. All kinds of cheese. Some people say they like cheese, but they really just like food smothered in cheese. I like just plain cheese. I enjoy cutting a little chunk and nibbling on it with some grapes. I don't even use crackers.
Today I received a package from Formaggio Kitchen. I ordered two Artisanal Swiss Cheeses so I could taste #25 on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes To Try in 2007. I ordered the two cheeses suggested by Food & Wine: Gruyere Vieux and Bündner Bergkäse Andeerer. The shipping to Florida was $20.49 for two-day delivery which I had to do since the cheeses are perishable.
I've learned a little bit about cheese through this process. When I tasted them I knew that I liked them both, but was having a hard time finding words to describe them. So I read about the cheeses a bit as I was tasting them. I paid attention to what kind of milk they were made from, their consistency, and while chewing I tried to find the flavors which the cheese company described. It's funny how when someone tells you something has a "medium-strong" flavor you can try and look for it and understand what they are talking about - but only while it is still in your mouth.
Both of the cheeses are made from cow's milk and come from Switzerland. Neither is a "Swiss" cheese with holes in it like we Americans are used to. They might be considered "organic" to some because the cows are fed in their pastures and the entire process seems quite natural and traditional.
Gruyere Vieux ($11.95) is my favorite of the two. It's a hard cheese that reminds me of manchego. I fell in love with manchego about five years ago when someone at a wine store suggested I try manchego cheese with my pinot noir wine. The combination is magical. And since then manchego has been my favorite cheese. But what I discovered today is that it's not necessarilly the way that manchego tastes that attracts me to it, it's the consistency of the cheese. It's solid but when you take a bite it kinds of crumbles or flakes as you chew it. There is almost a grittiness to it. The crumbles kind of dissintegrate on your tongue like salt does which I think is really interesting. Gruyere Vieux acts the same way. And I didn't realize it on my own, but while reading the description of Gruyere Vieux on the website, I do notice a nutty flavor. That must be why I like it so much.
Bündner Bergkäse Andeerer ($16.95) is softer to the touch than the Gruyere Vieux. I have never tried any other cheese that has a similar consistancy so I have nothing to compare it too. But the end result is a creamier texture while tasting it. There is an interesting story on Formaggio's website about this cheese. Apparently it is created by one of the only female cheese makers in Switzerland. The milk comes from one of only 5 small farmers and maybe these special touches are why this cheese has won several awards in the past few years.
note* 1 ounce of cheese is 3 Weight Watchers points.