A Special Delivery from Switzerland

As a cheese lover, I am deeply grateful to have friends in foreign places - especially when that place is the cheese capital of the world, and especially when these friends happen to pass through the United States with cheesy care packages.

On New Year's Eve, I jumped at the chance to meet my friend Stéphane from Switzerland, who was on his way to Mexico for a holiday. Of course I was excited to see a friend that I hadn't caught up with in years, but I must admit that I was almost equally thrilled for an entire kilo of my most beloved Swiss Gruyere that he agreed to bring along.

This Gruyere, the original and the best, is produced by the Swiss company "Le Gruyere." They only export cheese up to 12 months in age to the USA. Cheesemongers have told me this is because there isn't a market for the deeply aged Gruyere here in the states, but that's hard for me to believe! The 12 month can be quite delicious, especially when aged by great cheesemongers like Murray's Cheese, but to me it doesn't represent the true Swiss taste. When I lived in Geneva, my favorite Gruyere was the 24 month, which is TWICE as old as the Gruyere in the USA and arguably twice as delicious. 

Stéphane is quite an authority on cheese himself (not only is he Swiss, but he has worked in the food business his entire life), and he was smart enough to taste the cheeses before purchasing this monster kilo for me. He informed me before his arrival that he had decided to bring the 18 month instead of the 24, because, "Le 18 mois était bien meilleure (petite touche de noisette au goût)." Or in English, the 18 month was much better (small touch of nuttiness in the taste). His experience is a perfect example of why you must always taste before you buy. Each wheel of cheese comes with a unique flavor, and the best 
tasting Gruyere may vary from week to week.

I am now savoring every bite of this incredible Gruyere. It'll take quite a while to get through, but it couldn't last long enough. Out of all the cheeses I adore, I can confidently tell you that the true "Le Gruyere" is my absolute favorite. It's salty and sweet with hints of nut and caramel, and a few delightful amino acid flakes in every bite. To me, this cheese is perfect.

Merci Stéphane, Merci La Suisse... Vive Le Gruyere! 

Donc allez-y et mangez du fromage.