Special Sunday Tasting: Swiss Cheesemaker, Mike Glauser

Cheesemaker grating Belper Knolle to taste
Cheesemaker grating Belper Knolle to taste

Mike stopped by with cheese importer, Olivier Boye, on Friday to introduce himself and I knew he’d be a hit.  His cheeses were excellent and on top of that he was personable, had a good sense of humor and the little traditioinal cap with the Swiss flag on it wouldn’t hurt.  Plus, it’s fun when I get to speak German … and if you’re German, you’ve got to love Swiss German.

Cheesemaker, Mike Glauser, with Emmentaler in the foreground
Cheesemaker, Mike Glauser, with Emmentaler in the foreground

The Glauser’s are third generation artisan cheese makers located in Bern, Switzerland. Together with other small, local, cheesemakers (Fromagerie Glauser, Fromagerie Jakob, Fromagerie Steinen & Fromagerie Belp), they created the association “Jumi Export” with the goal of showing real traditional Swiss cheeses to the outside world. For the American market, these cheeses should create a new association with what people think of as “Swiss cheese”.

Here is some information on the cheeses we tasted last Sunday:

EMMENTALER – raw cow’s milk; semi-hard to hard; aged 6-10 months (young) & 18-24 (aged) ~ both were available at the tasting so you could experience the difference. As the Swiss say, Emmentaler is a tradition and a way of life.  I can concur that the German’s have the same opinion, with this cheese being a staple for my family growing up and for Julie and me when we lived there.
Notes from the cheesemaker:
Texture:  elastic, non-sticky with fine to semi-fine crystals
Taste: delicate and mild (hay)
Flavors:  slightly salty and milky, fresh butter and jelly
Odor:  slightly spicy, pungent persistence (body)
Culinary note: the ultimate fondue cheese
Produced by: Master Cheese Maker Glauser, Bergkäserei; Oberhünigen, Switzerland
Wine/beer pairings:  fruity beer (such as Belgian ales: Regenboog Wostynj Spicy Ale or La Chouffe Golden Ale) or rounder, fuller-bodied white wines such as Côte du Rhône Blanc or (not too oaky) Chardonnay such as Domaine de Vic 2005 Chardonnay (Vin de Pays d’Oc, France) $15

APPENBERGER – raw cow’s milk; semi-hard; aged 4-5 months (young) & 8-9 months (aged).  This famous cheese hails from the Appenberger region. Its aroma is dominated by flowery notes from wild mountain flowers. The flavor of the cheese intensifies as it ages.
Notes from the cheesemaker:
Texture:  smooth paste, supple and slightly sticky with little holes
Flavors:  slightly salty, buttery and creamy.  The palate will be stimulated by fresh butter and slightly acidic (sour/lactic) notes.
Culinary note: Appenberger lends itself to imaginative combinations. For example, with sliced fresh tomatoes or with prune or fig preserves. It is also very well suited for fondue.
Produced by: Master Cheese Maker Fromagerie Glauser; Oberhünigen, Switzerland
Wine pairings:  a big Côte du Rhône such as Ogier 2005 Côte du Rhône Caves des Papes or a nice red from neighboring  Vacqueyras, all spicy, earthy reds from the Southern Rhône Valley in France. 

– raw cow’s milk, chives, onions; semi-hard; aged 4 months
In the Vacherin Fribourgeois region, semi-hard cheeses are an old tradition. Knoschi is an original and very sought after semi-hard cheese embedded with onions and chives. The raw milk, artisan process and aging impart a dominant, beefy aroma which is in full harmony with onion and chive flavors.
Notes from the cheesemaker:
Texture:  elastic paste, smooth and crisp
Flavors:  taste of broth highlighted with chive/caramelized onion flavors
Culinary note: after 4 months of aging, this cheese is ready for fondue and shows enhanced characteristics with heating and melting
Produced by: Master Cheese Maker Fromagerie Glauser; Giffers (Freiburg), Switzerland
Wine pairings:  this cheese has a lot of chivy, garlic flavors, so stick with a white such as Chenin Blanc or a nice Viognier/Roussanne blend such as Jean-Luc Colombo 2006 La Redonne $17.50, which is what we served at the tasting and is also available at the wine bar if you’d like to try a glass first.

BELPER KNOLLE – cow’s milk, garlic, pepper powder, Himalajasalt; semi-soft; aged 1 week or more. Around 17 years ago, the first “Belper Knolle” was made by hand and it is handmade to this day. The milk and garlic are also from Belp (where the name originates).  The pepper is from the “Oberland” and the salt from the Himalayas.
Notes from the cheesemaker:
Texture:  easy to spread, a light delicate consistency
Taste:  slightly spicy with refreshing herbal background notes
Good to know: the intensity of this cheese is reduced when the pepper/salt is brushed off. At the tasting, Mike told customers to grate this cheese over pasta or risotto.
Produced by: Käserei Belp; Bern, Switzerland
Wine pairings:  this is an acidic, herbal cheese, so it’s white all the way.  Try a white from the Loire Valley such as Benedicte de Rycke 2005 Jasnières $28

The Belper Knolle sold out at the tasting.  People loved it!  I purchased some of Appenberger, which we melted and served over boiled red potatoes with a side salad.  We paired it with a  Jean-Luc Colombo declassified Cornas from the cellar.  It was a delicious meal, especially since it’s still chilly weather here in Seattle.  If you are interested in purchasing these cheeses, they are available or can be ordered at the following cheese counters: Big John’s PFI (ask for Donna), Village Market Thriftway, Magnolia Thriftway, The Cheese Cellar (near the Space Needle), DeLaurenti (Pike Place Market), some Whole Foods Markets.

Contributor:  Jens Strecker