Now that’s a title you don’t read every day. Don’t worry this isn’t a cheese-induced dream! For years we have been told that eating too much cheese isn’t good for us and now we have scientific facts to say otherwise – science now says eat more cheese.
I personally am over the moon about this as I eat shed loads of it…. when in France and all that jazz!
The Science Bit
So who has turned the tables and sent cheese boards spinning, by unveiling these new findings? We have University College Dublin to thank and here’s what they say:-
- The research from University College Dublin has concluded that people who eat a lot of cheese are thinner than those who don’t, and it doesn’t actually raise cholesterol levels.
- Scientists studied the impact of eating dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and cream – on 1,500 people aged between 18 and 90.
- They found that the people who consumed the most dairy had lower BMIs, lower body fat percentages, smaller waists and lower blood pressure.
Before you run to crack open that vintage cheddar or cut into a chunk of Brie you were saving for a special occasion, it is also important to note the following from Dr Emma Feeney, the Study Lead Author.
“We have to consider not just the nutrients themselves but also the matrix in which we are eating them in and what the overall dietary pattern is, so not just about the food then, but the pattern of other foods we eat with them as well.”
But that’s fine, we just have to watch what we eat as an accompaniment as well – a philosophy that has been followed for many years in the Alps.
OK, now you can cut into that vintage cheddar or chunk of Brie….
Choosing Which Alpine Cheese
When it comes to cheese, the French obviously know their stuff. The likes of Brie, Camembert and Roquefort are on our supermarket shelves and readily available, but there are probably a few on there that you didn’t realise are from the Alps. Alpine regions are historically known for their cheese making, especially in the Savoie region where the cows roam freely, ringing their huge bells amongst all that lovely mountain pasture.
There are many different cheeses to choose from in the Alps and the producers are fiercely proud of their tasty creations. Often, the recipes and methods have been passed down through generations, making them even more special. Here are a few to look out for:-
A delicate and subtle cheese traditionally made from raw cow’s milk. Reblochon is produced almost exclusively in the Haute Savoie and Val d’Arly regions.
During the 13th century, the rent farmers paid to their landlords was based on the quantity of milk produced from their herds. In order to save money, the farmers would only do a partial milking in front of the landlord then later they would ‘reblocher’, meaning to pinch the cow’s udder again. Reblochon cheese was made from this second secret milking.
Reblochon has a semi-soft consistency with a mild fruity flavour and nutty after taste flavoured with a hint of hazelnut and peanut. Most Famous for its use in Tartiflette – we do this in the chalets! It is also lovely served at room temperature with some plain crackers as it can be quite pungent!
Made in the Beaufortian, Maurienne, Tarentaise and Val d’Arly Valleys and matured for at least 5 months on spruce shelves in cold cellars, allowing the many flavours to develop.
Firm yet buttery, Beaufort cheese is made and matured at high altitudes from raw cow’s milk. A fragrant almond flavour becomes more complex and strong, with a melt in the mouth smooth texture. This is our go to nutty cheddar alternative here in the Alps… expensive but delicious!
Made in Mont Blanc, Chablais and Aravis mountain ranges in haute Savoie and the Bauges mountain range in Savoie. Chevrotin is produced exclusively by farmers since the 17th century and the only goat’s milk cheese with Savoie quality certification.
Chevrotin is handmade following a unique technique resulting in a soft goat’s milk based cheese, full of flavour with an aroma of wild herbs, which feature in the spring and summer diet of the goats themselves.
A must served on a bed of Mesclun salad, slightly warmed with some walnuts and honey to bring out the flavour of the cheese.
Vacherin de Bauges
Made in the very small quantities in the Rhone-Alps region. Cow’s milk is used to make this soft cheese with a rich sweet flavour. The creaminess creates a very decadent cheese with a smell of mushrooms and a tangy earthiness. It is presented in a wooden box to contain the cheese, and a spoon which is used to serve it.
Made from the milk of Abondance cows in the village of Abondance, situated in the Abondance Valley – so no surprises why they call this cheese Abondance.
A firm yet supple cheese, made from raw cow’s milk. It has a strong smell with an intensely fruity, buttery and hazelnut flavour. The use of a copper cooking pot and then draining through cheesecloth, adds to the texture and taste of this alpine cheese.
It’s similar to Beaufort, but when you get a strong one, it almost has the edge!
Tomme de Savoie
A very popular mountain cheese and made by lots of local farms in the area and throughout the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions. Tomme de Savoie is produced using skimmed cow’s milk, with a lower fat content so it is thought of as the low calorie option in the mountains!
It’s delicious and comes in many different varieties. The texture is soft yet firm and the flavour ranges from mild to strong, depending on the level of maturity. It’s the favourite on our cheese board in the chalets every ski season and goes extremely well with a sweet onion confit!
Emmental de Savoie
Made from raw cow’s milk in the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions and tracing back to the Middle Ages. The characteristic holes appear in Emmental de Savoie during the lengthy maturing process, due to the alternation of hot and cold cellars.
This hard cheese with a nutty sweet flavour follows the rule of 75: it is 75cm in diameter, 75kg in weight and has at least 75 days of maturing.
There’s no other word for it, stinky! Mont D’Or cheese is probably the ripest and stinkiest cheese I have ever dealt with and is also only French cheese you have to eat with a spoon! Gooey, runny and sticky, this is so French it should be wearing a beret and carrying a baguette!
It’s named after Mont d’Or in the Jura region which is just down the road from Morzine and is amazing served warm with fresh crusty bread dipped in. Yum!
The Alps: The Best Places to Visit for Cheese Lovers
The One Stop Cheese Experience
La Fruitière l’Alpage situated in the centre of Morzine offers a cheese-making demonstration and visit to the cheese maturing cellars, to give the ultimate insight into this alpine art.
You can also visit their beautiful shop to stock up on your favourite cheeses and accompaniments. Why not complete your experience by savouring their produce in their lovely restaurant next door?
The Auberge de Fretolles
Not to be missed in Summer. Just a short hike from the Col Du Cou and a must for an authentic mountain experience. The simplest, yet tastiest mountain fodder you can get in Morzine, with all the taste of the farm.
True provenance, as all the cheese is made from the cows, goats and sheep that roam the pastures next door.
The Bar of Cheeses
What could be better than sitting in beautiful surroundings and tasting a vast array of local cheeses paired with delicious wines?….. it’s like a sweet shop for grown-ups.
The Local French Market of Morzine
Every Wednesday morning, the local market stalls come into Morzine. Summertime is amazing for this when the local farmers battle for your attention to “gouter” or try the ripest of authentic Goats Cheeses, the strongest of Abondance Fermier or Beaufort, or simply nibble on a slice of Saucisson.
Goat Farm Visit and Mountain Walk in Switzerland
If you want to venture into another country for the day, then cross the border from France into Switzerland for a mountain walk for cheese-lovers. The walk begins in the Swiss mountain village of Morgins, then on to Champoussin to visit the Gaby Goat Farm for a tour and tasting followed by a Rosti Lunch and all organised by the local tourist board.
Abondance Valley of Cheese
You can also drive 20 minutes down the road to the next valley and experience the authentic Abondance Market every Sunday where you’ll find a selection of great local cheese producers. The Fetes des Fromages takes place on Sunday 13th August 2017. It’s a homage to all things dairy, where you will be transported to cheese heaven from 9am until 6pm.
Cheese tasting can be thirsty work so there is also a Microbrewery called Le Fer Rouge, in the neighbouring village Lachapelle d’Abondance. It’s definitely worth a visit, and a great place to wash down the cheese tasting with afterwards.
The Venice of the Alps
Annecy is romantically known as the Venice of the Alps due to the winding canals, pretty cobbled streets and pastel coloured buildings. There is a well known shop owned by Pierre Gay, Annecy’s big cheese in cheese.
Savour the Cheese Delicacies Available in Morzine
This dish is perfect for those times when you just don’t want to share your cheese with anyone else. I would recommend L’Etale restaurant, where you get own individual pot of melted cheese flavoured with garlic and served with a selection of charcuterie, pickled cornichons, bread and boiled potatoes which you dip in the melted cheese……heaven.
Normally for a minimum of two people, a combination of cheeses are melted with garlic, wine and a small amount of kirsch and served with chunks of crusty bread. Here is a great fondue recipe to try at home. Look out for tomato fondue and also mushroom or leek and even truffle.
If you want to be really adventurous why not eat fondue while parapenting? – yes it can be done!
The classic half moon slab of raclette cheese, melted on a special machine at your table and served with boiled potatoes, salad and pickled cornichons . La Grange takes some beating for this speciality – go for a Raclette Royale where you get the cold meat platter added!
If you like potatoes, bacon, cheese and cream – you are in for a treat! Don’t worry tartiflette is healthy – it is served with a green salad to cut through the richness……
Never drink cold water and try to avoid red wine with dishes containing large amounts of cheese as it makes it much harder to digest. You should drink white wine ….or hot tea. More importantly all should be washed down with a swig of local digestive like Genepi or Eau De Vie.
Learn More About Morzine
I hope that all this talk of alpine cheese has given you an appetite for your next holiday to the Mountains. I have been lucky enough to have made Morzine my home for more
than a decade and love everything about this region. If you have any questions about visiting this area, what to do and where to stay, then please let me know.
Otherwise, feel free to eat as much cheese as you like in moderation! An article in the Independent provides more food for thought….. Brilliant!