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Cheese of the Month: December - Mont d'Or

For December Ros Windsor, Managing Director of Paxton & Whitfield, has selected Mont d'Or PDO* for cheese lovers to enjoy.  (unpasteurised cows' milk, traditional rennet).  Famous for its unique flavour and superb quality, Mont d'Or during December is at the height of its season. 

Mont d'Or comes from the Jura Mountains, which lie across the Alps of the French/Swiss border.  It is a unique cheese as it is only made from mid-August to mid-March.  This is because the weather conditions during these months traditionally prevented farms taking their milk to the local dairy for making Comté, as they would in summer.  The farms therefore make a smaller cheese themselves and because a small size is not particularly good for a hard cheese they make a delicious soft cheese that is rich and creamy in flavour.

The PDO* status of the cheese means that it can now only be made from the raw milk of Montbeliarde or French Simmental cows that are fed on grass or hay.

Approximately seven litres of milk are needed to create one kilogram of the cheese.  Once made the curds are pressed into cylindrical moulds, they are then taken out of the moulds and the cheese is circled with a strip of resinous spruce bark, a unique feature of this cheese is that the wood imparts a distinct flavour to it.

The cheese has a slightly woody flavour with hints of mushroom and a rich creamy taste.  It can be eaten at room temperature with a spoon used to scoop out the rich pate.

Ros says: “It’s a delicious cheese eaten as it is but it is also wonderful baked in the oven, in its wooden box, with a little white wine drizzled on top. It creates a delicious and simple fondue that is extremely moreish eaten with some crusty bread and a glass of crisp, white wine.”

*PDO – Protected Designation of Origin, for products which are produced, processed and prepared within a particular geographical area, and with features and characteristics which must be due to that area.