Welcome back to Learning to Love the Stink, our new cheese column written by Charlotte Kamin, owner and cheesemonger—yes, that's a real term–at the Bedford Cheese Shop. She's here to de-mystify the stinkiest of cheese terms, cheeses, and makers in the biz to help you sound like a boss the next time you roll up to the fart…um… cheese counter.
Everyone loves a little something sweet and nutty all up in their grill, something crystalline and dank with notes of that sticky green. It's that hard, crisp beast that melts in your mouth—not in your hands—with righteous, crunchy textures like a hit of savory pop rocks. It's the OG of cheese genres: Alpine style. It sounds like some sort of kinky sex move that involves one too many right angles, but it's far more than just some dairy squeezed fresh from the mountainside.
There's only one way to get the essence of fresh grass clippings, wildflowers, and morning dew in your cheese: get some cattle to graze upon it. We are what we eat. That's why those gnarly, holistic freegans resemble a dumpster that's be defecated upon. We are all but little microcosms. We eat meat and it goes into the land of our tummies, where a diversity of bacteria feast upon our waste, and then shit it all out for the sewer rats to consume free street stew. Ah nature, you are so charming and yet so disgusting.
The Alpine mountainside—the large body of mountains that run 750 miles across eight countries—is an impressive landmass that gives off baller terroir like a highly coveted perfume. It's got buzzworthy peaks, like Mont Blanc and Matterhorn, with some of the most pristine and potent foliage found anywhere in the world. And these little herds of blissed-out bovines get to graze on the goods from this Pauly Shore free Swiss biodome all day long.
These places are filled with the foie gras of the plant world. Fatty equals good. Happy heifers bask in the crisp sun of the mountainous terrain, munching on endless meadows of wild clovers, edelweiss, and the like, with not a stress or worry upon their plump, tranquil lives. When it's time to lend their frothy liquid to the artistry of their shepherds, they give forth some of the sweetest, richest, most decadent milk around.
This creamy mountain libation transforms with a touch of alchemy, taking something so pure in form and mixing in a little chemistry and a prolonged chilling session in a room laid out on some wood. This is how we get some of the most world-renowned cheeses, from Gruyère to Comté and even Appenzeller. Name something hard and delicious, and it probably comes from the mountainside, because Alpine style cheese is dope.
Consume your dairy with mass amounts of homemade white beer and the world's largest spliff.