My love affair with Gruyère cheese probably started in my mother’s womb, for I cannot seem to remember the beginning of this unwavering passion I feel towards it. I certainly know it was in the first cheese fondue I ever had, and in almost every other one since.
Its sweet and slightly salt distinct flavour varies with age, and how it harmoniously envelopes most dishes to which its added. And when Gruyère melts, in a grilled cheese, it has my putty heart.
Born in the cantons of Fribourg, Gruyères, Le Gruyère AOP is the only cheese that has won the title of best cheese of the world at the World Cheese Awards four times. The region of Gruyère has been known for its cheese production since the 12th century. Around 400 litres of fresh, unpasteurised milk is required to produce one 35 kg wheel of cheese.
I have only been fortunate to visit here in the last decade with my family. The sprawling green pastures had my heart at first sight. The little pedestrian town had the most inviting vibe, with church bells that rang in the square. They came from Château de Gruyères (Gruyères Castle), was built in the 12th century and is like a portal into another beautiful, lost world. An absolute must-visit. We stayed at the Hôtel de Gruyères, at the gate of the town, with unmissable, classic, Swiss interiors and excellent food.
The room I shared with my sisters had a little ceiling window, right above my bed. I would watch the stars spread across the clear sky for all of the three nights we were there. In the day I heard the soothing tinkling collar bells of the grazing cows, from the meadows all around. Ever since then, I yearn to go back to this medieval town. My husband and I had booked everything to go this year, but as you can imagine. I will go to sleep tonight dreaming yet again of the delicious fondue I ate and learnt so much about at Chalet de Gruyères.
But I’ll leave you with a real simple Fondue recipe!
Recipe for Swiss Cheese Fondue
2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 cup Emmentaler cheese or other Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove, halved
Freshly ground pepper
Rub the inside of a cheese fondue pot or cast-iron casserole with the garlic clove.
Combine the grated Gruyère and Emmentaler with the wine and cornstarch in the pot and cook over moderate heat.
Stir patiently, until the cheeses begin to melt.
Add a generous pinch each of pepper and cook, stirring gently, until creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes; don’t overcook the fondue or it will get stringy.
Serve at once with sourdough or a couple of days old bread.
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