Swiss Cheese? No Holes, Please!
At a big family party last weekend, my in-laws whipped up a huge buffet feast. One of the great things about French Swiss (and French French for that matter) formal dinners is the cheese course served after the main dish and before (or sometimes in place of) dessert. Here you see an array of Swiss cheeses. Notice the complete absence of holes here. You go from the rich, liquidy spreadableness of the Vacherin (at 12:00) to the solid richness of the Gruyere (at 3:00 and great for melting) to the oozy pungency of a very ripe Reblochon (at 5:00. Ok, so this isn't Swiss; it's from Haute Savoie which is so close to Geneva it's almost a suburb). And then ignore completely the rocky sharpness of the Parmesan (9:00) that we brought up from Italy for the occasion.
A Swiss cheese that deserves it's own special plate and shaving device is the Tete de Moine (Monk's head) cheese that is eaten in paper-thin frilly curls. You might see the logic of the name since the top of the cheese is "bald" while the sides still have their covering.
The cheese that probably gained Switzerland it's holey reputation is Emmentaler. Full of holes and rather sweeter than Gruyere. It's not my favorite but it does go well in a standard cheese mix for fondue: Gruyere, Emmentaler and Vacherin Fribourgeois, all shreddable and very melty. Who's up for fondue?