Mont d'Or and Champagne Bliss
- Melanie Wong
Last Saturday was Oyster Bliss XV in Berkeley, the now annual celebration in the parking lot shared by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Acme Bread, and Cafe Fanny. As wonderful as the Hog Island oysters were and likewise the sausages made by Christopher Lee of Eccolo, the Vacherin Mont d'Or that I carried home last month from the Saturday market in Beaune spooned onto Acme's crusty epi baguette stole the show. It became even more magical when paired with the new lot (99 01) of NV J. Lasalle Brut Impérial Preference. The base wine for the Champagne was much richer and creamier than usual with loads of yeasty complexity, toasty depth and steely minerality that brought out the herbal tones and more fruitiness in the cheese.
When Kermit stopped by to chat, I offered him a taste of our cheese. At first he declined, but when I told him I'd bought it in France and he saw its gooey spoonability, he commented that it looked good and that he liked it on top of potatoes. PaulH whipped out one of his Spiegelau flutes to offer a sip of Champagne. On tasting the synergy of the Mont d'Or with the magnificent J. Lasalle, Kermit threw back his head and exclaimed, "Oh god! Is this where I'm supposed to go like this?", as he moved his fingers in the sign of the cross. Chuckling, I replied, "Welcome to the Church of the Holy Yeast and the Trinity of Bread, Wine and Cheese."
This combination is truly a religious experience.
THAT is the MOST BEAUTIFUL PICTURE i have ever seen on Chowhound.
Melanie, you steal my heart and make my mouth water by taunting me with your tale of cheese....
How dare you?!?!!
Thanks for the pic. so do you think they still have the Vacherin available at the market? and where the heck is Beaune? and can i get some vacherin elsewhere in the bay area? this cheese has been elusive to me and i am dying to try it! until i can find some, i will just settle for some Epoisses.
This was the first time that I'd successfully hit perfect ripeness aging the cheese myself. Underripe, overripe, but not this time. The rind was more than just mottled brown, about half the top was brownish and it had caved in.
Vacherin Mont d'Or is only made from winter milks, October through March. When I bought it, the cheese vendor in Beaune said this was the last he'd have. It had a consume by date of 18 April. You might be able to find the tail end of it in the cheese shops locally. This one cost me 7 euros, but in SF you'll pay about $20-25.
Because it's so popular, Clarines makes a similar cheese with spring/summer milks using the same mold. It tastes slightly different due to the grass diet, but it ages to the same luscious spoonability.
The photo below is the big Epoisses purchased the same Saturday after the end of the car ride through mountain passes to Geneva. We had purchsed it ready ripe and it was so liquidy it collapsed from centrifugal forces. The three of us managed to polish off nearly a third of it for dinner.