December’s Cheese of the Month: Vacherin Fribourgeois

‘Tis the season for caroling, Christmas lights and comforting flavours to be shared with close friends and family. It’s a time to celebrate tradition, even in the wonderful world of cheese. December’s cheese of the month, Vacherin Fribourgeois, does just that.

Made by only a few artisanal producers in the towns of Bulle, Fribourg and Julla, Switzerland, this raw cow’s milk, semi-soft, washed-rind cheese dates back 1000 years. Vacherin Frebourgeois is made in six classifications based on its agedness, which ranges anywhere from nine weeks to six months, creating a broad spectrum of mild to bold flavours.

“As it ages, the flavor can become quite pungent, not for the faint of heart and not a cheese to forget in your purse!,” Christine Van Der Liek, co-owner of Oyama Sausage Company in the Granville Island Public Market said.

Should Vacherin Fribourgeois find its way onto your holiday cheese plate, Van Der Liek suggests putting this addictively nutty, creamy cheese between hard cheeses and blue cheeses in tasting order.

As it is a beautiful melting cheese, Vacherin Fribourgeois happily tops any winter vegetable gratin with a blanket of bubbly, golden brown goodness. For a homey holiday starter, try topping hunks of grilled artisan bread with deeply caramelized onions, fresh thyme and a generous sprinkling of Vacherin and broil until it starts to ooze.

In keeping with customs, Van Der Liek suggests using it in a festive fondue. “It is a vital addition to any traditional Swiss fondue, adding a lovely creaminess,” she said. If you’re looking to enjoy a glass of wine with Vacherin Fribourgeois, Van Der Lief suggests defying convention. “I find it is wonderful with a sweeter Riesling or a really fruity ice wine,” she said. Inniskillin’s Riesling Ice Wine makes a handsome match.

This versatile cheese also pairs beautifully with rich reds like Burgundy, Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Oyama brings in Vacherin Fribourgeois only for the holidays, from late November until New Years to offer customers something special. “At this time of year we are looking for foods that are a distinct change from the everyday,” she said. “It really is an all around “cold weather” cheese, rich and satisfying, a perfect addition in a month of feasting and savoring many different flavors.”

Oyama Sausage Co.


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