Tete de Moine is a true masterpiece of Swiss cheese making and it is by all accounts the definition of a true gourmet cheese. It is produced by only nine dairies in the northwestern section of the Swiss Alps called the Bernese Jura where French is the predominate language. Tete de Moine is thought to have been produced by the monks at the Bellelay abbey since 1192 but it has been fully noted for production and sale since 1520. Originally the cheese was called Fromage Bellelay after the abbey where it was produced but it was renamed Tete de Moine in 1790. The English translation of Tete de Moine is "monks head" referring to the tax (paid with cheese) by the abbey to the French kings and the shaved circular bald spot on the monks heads.
Tete de Moine mini-wheels will have sticky or hard brown outer rinds depending on the dairy and weigh about 1.5 to 2 pounds. The interior paste is firm with a straw color which will darken as it ages. Please note that the cheese ages from the outside to the inside so the area closer to the rind may look darker or browner so this is not a sign of poor quality, it is natural. The interior paste may also have small holes throughout. This cheese is very aromatic even before cutting it. The aroma is like roasted nuts combined with earthy wine and musty wood, it is fantastic and will fill the room! The flavor is full bodied and very complex with hints of nuts and sweet fruit. In our opinion, if you are looking for a gourmet Swiss mountain style cheese, Tete de Moine exhibits much more flavor and aroma than Emmental and Gruyere. To truly experience the full extent of the flavor and aroma it should be shaved (NOT cut) with a knife into paper thin slices while it is still cold. We suggest that any lover of this cheese should invest in a griolle (see picture above). This wonderful tool allows for the perfect shaving of a mini-wheel of Tete deMoine, with a minimum of effort, every time you use it. If you do not use a griolle we suggest thinly cutting the top off and shaving it with your knife. The thin, sticky rind is edible even though it looks and feels like it should be removed. Store this cheese in the refrigerator wrapped in waxed paper or aluminum foil and then placed in a zip-lock bag, however we do not think that you will have any leftovers to worry about.
Serve Tete de Moine with fruits such as sliced apples, pears and grapes it is also fantastic with cured meats like prosciutto and thinly sliced salami. Try shaving it over a fresh salad or be like the Swiss and serve it with the top cut off, rind less and shaved, placed on caraway flavored crackers or sprinkled with pepper and powdered cumin.
Wine parings: Big reds like Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape it also pairs well with Zinfandel and ales, porters and stout.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)(ES). Protected designation of origińe (PDO) stands for a product for which the principal steps for production are done following a well-established technique within the same geographical area, which gives the product its characteristics. Year of registration 2011
400 - 420 kcal per 100 gr.
25 gr. per 100 gr.
33 - 35 gr. per 100 gr.
45 - 50 %
1.5 - 1.9 gr. per 100 gr.
20 - 21 gr. per 100 gr.
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03 09 2016 - Date of publication of this article
30 11 2016 - Date of last edit