For a simple yet stunning dinner or starter, I suggest a glorious melting moment with this oven baked oooey-gooey Vacherin Mont d’Or.
Called “the holy grail of raw milk cheeses”, Vacherin Mont d’Or, is truly a spectacular cheese. They are only available from October to March and I have been waiting 9 months now to try this. You could not have imagined my excitedness on seeing one at my local local cheese monger, La Fromagerie D’Audrix, last Tuesday.
The origin of this cheese was a point of contention between the Swiss and the French for centuries. The Swiss versions are made from pasteurized milk. In France, you can get both versions; those made with lait cru (raw milk) and the pasteurized ones. (Tip: Go for the lait cru.)
Serve with good bread, some new potatoes, cornichons and to make a full meal out of it, slices of ham or smoked sausage. Pair it with a a good, flavorful white wine (such as Arbois, Chasselas, Sancerre, Chardonnay, or Gewürztraminer). Better yet, try a wine from the Jura, the region the cheese comes from.
I went to my local wine store, Julian de Savignac, and they suggested a white Savagnin, a little known grape varietal, grown almost exclusively in the Jura, for something typical and unique or a chardonnay from Jura if I wanted to play it safe. I went for the Savagnin. What an interesting wine! It tasted almost like a very dry and fine sherry and that is no surprise as the wine spends almost 4 years in oak barrels, “sous voile”. Sous-voile (“with veil”, referring to the “veil” of yeasts that float on the developing wine, analogous to the “flor” of sherry) is wine made in the special Jura manner whereby winemakers allow controlled amounts of oxidation to produce a wanted specific result. The result is a very nutty, dry, yellow wine with tangy flavours. A perfect match. (The Trousseau, by the way, is a light red from Jura)
If you cannot find this glorious cheese, then you could substitute another washed rind cheese in a box, such as Camembert but it really will not be the same.
Serves 4 (as a starter) or 2 (as a dinner)
1 ripe Vacherin in its wooden box, room temperature
2 teaspoons dry white wine
450 g / 1 lb small potatoes, cooked whole
125 g / 4 oz cornichons
crusty french bread, preferably a walnut bread
1 or 2 smoked sausages (I used saucisse de morteau)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF /190ºC
Pierce eight-to-ten slits in the top of the cheese with a paring knife
Drizzle the wine over the top
Replace the lid and bake for about 20 minutes (until the cheese is hot and soft all the way through)
Put the cheese, in its box, on a large serving platter, uncover and pull back the top layer
Serve with the new potatoes, cornichons, sausage or ham and a delicious nut bread