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For the Love of Gruyère

February 26, 2010

As I began to tear through the latest issue of Culture, the subject matter in the letter from the editor really gave me pause for thought.  For those of you who haven’t read the latest issue, the letter focuses on one particular reader who wrote that she enjoys the magazine, loves cheese and cooking, but can’t understand why Gruyère is included in many recipes because it is so “tasteless”.  The letter continues to describe the reader’s attempts with Gruyère by finding it at her local supermarket only to continually be disappointed.  The Editor eventually corresponds with the reader and eventually sends her a small wedge of Rolf Beeler’s 18-month aged Gruyère to give her the ultimate example of what a Gruyère can be.  Rolf Beeler is considered to be the preeminent selector and affineur when it comes to Swiss-style cheeses.  If his name is on it, consider it a quality guarantee.

As soon as I finished the letter, it struck me that although we as a cheese loving country have come a long way in recognizing and demanding quality, the demographic is so narrow that we still have far to travel.  I am sure people living in dairy and cheese-centric areas might be able to spot the difference, but the gap is still too wide to consider ourselves enlightened.  As the booming artisanal cheese movement grows stronger, it is up to local cheese makers and cheeseheads to continue to spread the word not only about local offerings, but other world class benchmarks such as the Beeler aged Gruyère.

I bring this up because one of the cheese I purchased at my recent trip to Rubiner’s was a Beeler 16-month aged Gruyère.  This is one of those cheeses that makes you sit back and simply say “wow”.  I am immediately taken in by the smell of sweet milk coupled with earthy and nutty overtones.  The crystalline texture reminds me of an aged Parmigiano or Gouda, but not quite as pervasive.  The crunchy crystals are almost a surprise as I don’t get them with each and every bite.  (I wish I had a picture to show this, but I think I need to upgrade my camera.)  As the paste breaks down, there is even a hint of pineapple…strange, but true.  I like that the earthy finish is present, but in no way does one note overwhelm the other.  The balance is amazing to where I am able to pick out the various elements of the flavor profile, long after it is gone.  Truly outstanding.

I think it comes down to this.  If you have access to examples of world class cheese such as this or any other fine cheese, I would implore you to enjoy and share it with others.  The more that we open up the minds and palates of others to the variety of flavors and textures that cheese has to offer, the closer we will come to bridging the gap between Rolf Beeler and the other “tasteless”  and shrink wrapped offerings that are readily available to the average consumer.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 8:25 am

    Aaron, I love the blog. Glad to find a cheese blog I can relate too!

    Personally, I love Gruyere, I do my best to find the less processed versions of it they always taste much more nutty and delicious.

    I saw this link recently after doing some searching for the best burger in NYC and I thought of this post when I was reading about Grueyere in your piece:

  2. May 19, 2011 9:15 pm

    love the blog entry! got rolf beeler’s cave aged gruyere and hock ybrig today from CHEESE on 62nd. lawd have murrrrrrcy!!!!!!!!!!!!! all i need now is a $100 bottle for red wine.

    • May 20, 2011 6:53 am

      Those are two of my favorites! Spectacular examples of Alpine-style perfection!

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