One of the best and simplest dinners you can have on a cold, snowy day is Vacherin au Four–a flavorful cheese that is baked until melted, and is then laddled onto boiled potatoes. Vacherin Mont d’Or, a cheese from the canton of Vaud in Switzerland, is the one and only cheese for such preparation, thanks in part to the round pine box in which it is sold. The soft cheese has a pale orange rind and is made from lighly cooked milk (“thermised,” per the Mont d’Or website). It has a strong flavor and smell, particularly if you purchase it on the riper side. It is only available in the winter months. In the US, order it through Murray’s Cheese, which sells it for $28.99 plus shipping. The price in Switzerland is about 20 CHF (but can be more than that depending on your cheesemonger or the weight of the cheese), so this is fairly priced, in my humble opinion, and worth every penny.
Rather than pouring the cheese onto potatoes, you can dip chunks of breads directly into it, as you would eat fondue. Vacherin Mont d’Or is also delicious raw and will make an unusual addition to your cheese platter. If you can get your hands on Swiss wines, a chasselas will be wonderful, but a dry riesling or a gewurtztraminer will be great too, as will a beer.
Vacherin au Four1 vacherin Mont d’Or, in its wooden box, top of box removed
6 to 8 garlic cloves, or to taste 1/2 cup white wine Boiled potatoes, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap the bottom and sides of the vacherin in foil. Pierce the cheese a few times with a knife and insert the garlic cloves in the holes. Pour the white wine on top of the cheese and place in the oven. Bake it until a crust forms and it bubbles up, about 30 minutes.
Place the vacherin on the table, put a couple of potatoes in each plate, and let each guest pour the melted cheese onto the potatoes.