Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

The Cheese Whisperer: Swiss-a-palooza

It’s no secret that we at the Co-op are fans of Swiss cheese. Last year our Cheese Department Manager Galen LeGrand adopted Alp Bleiki and recently visited Switzerland as part of a direct sponsorship of the cheese makers. The Skagit Valley Food Co-op is the only store in Washington state to carry aged Alpkäse Cheese (Alp Cheese) direct from its Swiss cheese makers: the Barmlettler Family. Through the Adopt-an-Alp program the Co-op has purchased Bleiki Alpkäse directly from the Barmettlers for you to enjoy this holiday season.

swiss-family-cheeseNutty, slightly sweet and extremely melt-able, Swiss is a popular choice for grilled sandwiches, quiche and pasta dishes. Make memorable meals with the Swiss cheese (or cheeses) of your choice. Click these links to a simple yet elegant Appenzeller Oven Potatoes Recipe, Sbrinz Alp-style Mac-n-Cheese Recipe. We offer a variety of Swiss cheese at our Specialty Cheese Island:

  • Bleiki Alpkäse – made from raw, grass-fed cow’s milk – Alpkäse cheese is a unique culinary pleasure produced directly on Alp Bleiki with meticulous handcrafting from the best Swiss alpine milk. Mild and nutty, with hints of hazelnuts and wildflowers, Bleiki Alpkäse is our standout Swiss for its rarity and depth of flavor. It has a strong, firm texture that melts well to make tasty sandwiches, salads or egg scrambles. Gently warm and combine shredded Alpkäse with a cup of white wine or fruity Belgian ale to create a delightful cheese fondue. Be sure to include this limited release on your holiday cheese board. Pair this cheese with its regional companions, such as a fruity Trappist ale (try Rochefort Quad 10) or a slightly sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer white wine.
  • gruyereLe Gruyère AOP – made from raw cow’s milk – produced since 1115 in the area around the small village of Gruyère in Western Switzerland, this much-loved cheese is still made in local dairies according to the original recipe and production methods. With its distinctive, buttery, caramel flavor and elastic texture, Gruyère is one of Switzerland’s most prized cheeses. Prepared from the finest fresh milk from cows fed on grass during the summer and hay during the winter, large wheels of cheese mature for a few months before arriving at Mifroma’s sandstone caverns. After arriving, Gruyère ages for another 5 months at a constant 96% humidity and temperature of 55.4° F. During the 5 months, the wheels develop their distinctive flavor, and are turned and brushed with salt water. Showcase Gruyère AOP on any cheese board, or use in authentic Swiss fondue or potatoes au gratin.
  • Emmentaler AOP Swiss –  made from fresh, raw grass-fed cow’s milk – pale and creamy Emmentaler AOP is one of the most iconic of all Swiss cheeses, characterized by its mild, sweet flavor and cherry-sized holes. Produced in the east of Switzerland in the emmentalerpicturesque valley of the river Emme, this cheese has been locally made since the 13th century. The cheese carries the AOP label, meaning it is a unique product of controlled origin. Only 200 village dairies, located in the picturesque valley of the river Emme, are authorized to make Swiss Emmentaler cheese, which is crafted to a strict set of time-honored methods. In Switzerland Emmentaler AOP is generally enjoyed cold at breakfast or as a dessert. Use it for omelettes, grilled cheese or serve with fruit preserves as part of a cheese board.
  • Appenzeller Swiss Cheese – made from raw cow’s milk – this medium-hard cheese with gentle herbal spiced flavors owes its name to the region in which it has been produced for over 700 years, the Appenzell. Situated in the northeast Switzerland, this mountainous area is rich in folklore and heritage; even today, folk music, traditional dancing and ceremonially descending the cows in autumn are a few of the local cultural customs that thrive and flourish in this region. Appenzeller is a unique cheese washed with an aromatic herbal brine, the ingredients of which are a closely guarded secret, passed down from generation to generation. Ideal for cooking and melting, enjoy Appenzeller as a simple dessert with crisp, tart fruit, such as apples.
By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.