So you might be asking yourself, why Alpine cheeses or what is an Alpine cheese (because yes it is more than Swiss cheese, and that Swiss cheese is really Emmental). So, to get you ready for the next two weeks of cheese, here is your preview of all things Alpine.
These cheeses from multiple European countries including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France evolved from the necessity to produce cheeses for the entire year during the spring and summer seasons. They are typically cow’s milk cheeses with an overarching flavor profile that is nutty with underlying sweetness. Alpine cheeses are crowd-pleasing and versatile. They're perfect on a platter and exceptional melters, more to come on that.
The key components:
- Cows – Alpine cows feed on fresh grass in the spring and summer along the sides of mountains heading to higher elevations as the grass comes back to life and local hay in the fall and winter. The small herds, of 10-30 cows, are cared for like pets, with barns attached to the cheesemakers home in many cases. Also, often the cows horns are left entact, which legend says leads to better milk.
- Mountains – The mountainous terrain is what drove the need to make BIG cheeses which are easier to move up and down the mountain and would last the winter when cheese making slows or stops.
- Grass – The Alpine grass is full of herbs and flowers, and it is well maintained through rotational grazing and haymaking.
During the festival we will be offering Alpine cheeses from France, Italy and Switzerland, as well as a selection of Alpine style cheeses made in Wisconsin and Vermont.