I had the pleasure of working as one of the judges at the Wisconsin World Cheese Awards in March and it was no surprise to me to see that the winner of Best-in-Show was a GruyÃ¨re, and that the second runner-up was another phenomenal cooked and pressed cheese from Switzerland. The two cheeses that won these awards were excellent indeed.
Our friend Rolf Beeler who goes around to the best dairies in Switzerland and hand-selects his choices told me that his favorite cheese was GruyÃ¨re. If you average out all the â€œqualityâ€ scores that I hesitantly supplied from country to country for Cheese, a Connoisseurâ€™s Guide to the Worldâ€™s Best you would find that the Swiss cheeses were at the top. In my new book – Mastering Cheese, Lessons for Connoisseurship from a MaÃ®tre Fromager – following a chapter on Americanâ€™s Artisans I have a chapter dedicated to the cheeses of Switzerland alone: â€œThere is no Swiss Cheeseâ€: Switzerlandâ€™s Best.
I have recognized for some time that the real excitement occurring in the cheese world today is happening right here in the United States, without a doubt. The improvements in U.S. artisan cheeses are utterly amazing, yet there are some things that have been happening across the pond in the tiny country of Switzerland for centuries that are simply breath-taking. Beyond fine watches, chocolates and tennis players, the Swiss have a long history of producing outstanding cheeses.
Our caves have a great grouping of Beelerâ€™s selections now, cheeses that are â€œscreaming-to-be-eaten,â€ that include some of my all-time favorites: Appenzeller, GruyÃ¨re, Hoch Ybrig, Prattigauer, Sbrinz and Val Bagner. Along with these harder cheeses we have a limited supply of some excellent softer Swiss cheeses: Bergfichte (a.k.a. ForsterkÃ¤se), Stanser Rotelli, and the cute little Tomme Vaudoise. The softer cheeses wonâ€™t be around here long (partly because I wonâ€™t be able to resist them myself) so I would recommend that if you havenâ€™t had one of these before that you try and get them now. And the harder ones will one by one go on to make many other cheese lovers smile.