With A Little Alps From My Friends | September 2022 curdbox

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This month, for our With A Little Alps From My Friends box, we partnered with chef, restauranteur, cookbook author, and Food Network star (and dare we say, friend?) Justin Warner to bring you this special showcase of Alpine cheeses along some great pairings to help them out. From the snow-topped mountains and rolling green pastures of the Alpine region to the hustling streets and peaceful lakes of the US, we celebrate the rich tradition of Alpine cheese and the products that pair perfectly with them, all here to help you enjoy a this delicious cheeseboard with some friends. Enjoy!


Red Witch by Bodensee Käse

Our first Alpine cheese, Red Witch hails from the small village of Rossrüti in northern Switzerland, near the German border. Even though the village is small, with only about 1,290 residents, it is still home to the artisan cheesemakers at Bodensee Käse. Unlike most cheeses, which are born from the mind of a cheesemaker, Red Witch was actually conceived by a cheese lover, not a cheesemaker. That cheese lover was Mrs. Zuehlke, who wanted a cheese that went well with the wine, beer, and the long nights of celebration during the Halloween-like pre-Lent carnival of Fastnacht. She contacted famed Swiss cheesemaker Christian Oberli of Bodensee Käse (as you would!), who agreed to meet with her. They sat down together at a train station restaurant, and over the course of the meal, the idea of Red Witch was born. With its bright red paprika-rubbed rind and its iconic black and red label featuring a witch riding her broom, it eventually became a favorite amongst cheese lovers throughout first Europe, and then across the globe. Don’t be scared off by its spooky label, it’s actually a relatively mild and easy-going cheese. Firm enough to be sliced, it’s creamy and nutty, and the paprika lends a peppery and smoky aroma that’s redolent of toasted nuts and bacon. It takes just one taste of the Red Witch for you to easily fall under her spell.  

   Red Witch from Bodensee Käse and the Jambon de Paris from Three Little Pigs

Raclette Suisse Classique from Mifroma

Next up, we have the classic Swiss Alpine cheese of Raclette. This one hails from the cheesemakers at Mifroma in the Gruyères region of Switzerland, and is appropriately called…Raclette Suisse Classique! From the French word Racler, meaning "to scrape," Raclette in one form or another can be traced all the way back to medieval times. Made from cow’s milk, it’s creamy and rich, and was literally made to melt—the name refers to both the type of cheese as well as the traditional meal itself, in which Raclette is melted over potatoes and served with various accoutrements of pickled items and cured meats. Mifroma ages their Raclette in sandstone caves deep in the mountains of the Alps themselves, which provide the ideal temperature and humidity for cheese maturation. It’s creamy, salty, slightly sweet, and has a nutty flavor that’s similar to Gruyère. But, it really comes to life when it's melted, which spotlights its decadently fatty, rich texture and adds a deeper complexity to its flavor. Melted or not, Raclette is the quintessential classic Swiss comfort cheese and will go brilliantly with this month’s savory pairings. 

Raclette Suisse Classique by Mifroma and the Cornichons Piquants from Three Little Pigs

Moosbacher from Schärdinger

To round out our trio of Alps, we’re leaving Switzerland heading for Austria—Salzburg, to be exact. Located in upper Austria, the city of Salzburg is not only the birthplace of Mozart, but is also where you’ll find the talented cheesemakers of Schärdinger. These artisans are experienced and dedicated, and with the high-quality milk from local dairy cows they make some of the best dairy products in the country. In fact, the excellence of the local milk is so important to these cheesemakers that they even named this month’s selection, Moosbacher, after one of the farmers who supply the milk for the cheese. In this month’s curdcast podcast, Food Network’s Justin Warner joked that he only chose this cheese because he liked saying the name “Moosbacher.” The name is fun to say, but it’s also such a good cheese, with a flavor that is often described as a cross between a Dutch Gouda and a Gruyère. But what makes it truly unique is that, unlike any other cheese, it is ripened both from the interior and the exterior. Interior-ripened cheeses have bacterial cultures in the “paste” (i.e. the interior) that create all sorts of different flavors and textures, and some of those bacterial cultures produce gas that result in those “Swiss cheese” holes (called “eyes” in the biz). Exterior-ripened cheeses (called surface-ripened) have cultures on the rind (i.e. the exterior). Usually a cheese would be one or the other, but Moosbacher is the only cheese in the world with both large holes on the inside and a surface-ripened exterior. Other than the eyes, it’s semi-firm and smooth in texture, and sweet and creamy with flavor, with a hint of spice and notes of toasted hazelnuts. It’s truly one-of-a-kind.  


Moosbacher from Schärdinger with the Famous Kream Mustard by Brownwood Farms

For this box, we are going for three of the classic pairings for alpine cheeses: ham, cornichons, and mustard. Let’s start with the ham.  

Jambon de Paris from Three Little Pigs

Our ham comes from, appropriately, Three Little Pigs in NYC. Three Little Pigs started out as a small deli specializing in charcuterie in Greenwich Village in 1975. Founded by two French chefs who randomly met in Africa while separately traveling the globe, they eventually became friends and, with the help of an American backer, decided to open a charcuterie shop in the heart of New York. Their little shop did quite well and, fast forward almost 50 years, they’re now nationally recognized for their award-winning products. To this day they make their charcuterie and French delicacies in small batches with an unwavering dedication to quality. Their French-style cooked ham, aka this month’s Jambon de Paris, is made in the traditional manner—with a wet cure that’s delicately spiced before the ham is slow-cooked in its own juices. This method develops a refined flavor while keeping its sodium content low. Hearty in texture and taste, it is perfect on a cheese platter or just on its own as a sneaky midnight snack 


Cornichons Piquants from Three Little Pigs

Also from Three Little Pigs, we have another regular on an alpine cheeseboard: cornichons. Like with the ham, Three Little Pigs mainly sticks to French tradition with their cornichons: they pickle baby gherkin cucumbers in vinegar with some added spices. But, for this piquants version, they throw chilis into the mix. So not only do you get the acidity and snap from the pickle, but there’s also some heat in there, too. It ends up being the ultimate cornichon, with the perfect balance of sweet, sour, spice, and crunch.  


Famous kreme Mustard from Brownwood Farms

To round out this picture-perfect alpine board, you gotta have mustard. For that, we went to one of our faves: Brownwood Farms. At Brownwood Farms, they take pride in their commitment to using only high quality, fresh, locally-sourced ingredients for all of its products, and their Famous Kream Mustard is no exception. Spicy, creamy, and sweet, each small batch is hand-mixed in a kettle on a cooktop until it reaches the perfect level of taste and texture. This hot and sweet treat is a must-have to kick-up your charcuterie boards, snacks, and sandwiches. 

 

So that's this month's box! Showcasing some of the best of Alpine cheeses, and the perfect pairings that go with them. We would also like to thank Food Network’s Justin Warner for collaborating with us for this special month of curdbox.  
 We’ll see you next time. Auf Wiedersehen! 

*****


Did you take some photos while enjoying this box that you were thinking of adding to Instagram? Please tag us @curdbox along with our cheese and pairing-partners: 
@mifroma_official, @schaerdinger.at, @brownwood_farms, and @3pigspate We love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

 

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