Vacherin Fribourgeois is a Swiss mountain cheese that is produced in the canton of Valais. As with all Swiss mountain cheeses the milk comes from cows that graze on Alpine grass and wild flowers throughout the late spring and summer. This pure grazing method allows the cows to produce sweeter milk. As summer turns to early fall the cows are brought down to lower pastures to graze on grass and summer hay. No other type of silage is fed to dairy cows during the winter except alpine and low meadow hay. This is the traditional method of dairy production, which continues today, and it has been producing magnificent mountain style cheese for centuries.
Vacherin is a raw cow milk semi-firm cheese that has been lightly pressed and aged for three to four months. It is closely related to Italian Fontina d'Aosta but its curd is not cooked. Vacherin has an inedible natural brushed and washed rind that has a moderate stink factor, however the aroma is neither overpowering nor offensive. The interior paste has a straw color and may have small holes throughout and a buttery texture. It has a pleasant nutty flavor that lasts in your mouth.
When buying Vacherin Fribourgeois look for a light brown rind that is semi-soft but not mushy. The top of the rind may have a very thin paper label attached. A hard rind indicates dryness and should be avoided. An unhealthy odor of rot and a grayish tinge to the paste are also telltale signs of over ripeness.
Vacherin is a great substitute for French Raclette when having fondue. Use it melted as the cheese covering on onion soup. This is a great melting cheese so try using it in place of your usual Swiss cheese on grilled sandwiches, gratins, potatoes or over steamed vegetables. Also serve it cubed with salads or with fresh sliced apples or pears as a dessert course. It is wonderful as a table cheese paired with crusty bread and wine. Remember that the rind is inedible so remove it before serving or grilling.
Wine parings: Any big and bold reds like Burgundy, Bordeaux or reds from the Rhone Valley in France. This great cheese can be purchased online at: http://www.aroundtheworldcheese.com/vafr.htm