A Seasonal Vacherin Dinner

If you are anything like me, you welcome November with gusto because it’s Vacherin season. I’m referring to the exquisite cheese made in the Jura mountains and released right before the holidays. Its full name is Vacherin Mont d’Or, and — although it’s a mouthful to say — the mere mention of it in a cheese shop usually turns a few heads. Is there a wheel of Mont d’Or here? Did someone say Vacherin Mont d’Or?

I have yet to see a wheel of Vacherin at a cheese shop in Philadelphia this month, which is why I practically sprouted wings when I received an invite to a Mont d’Or dinner at Bistrot la Minette. Chef/Proprietor Peter Woolsey, a French cheese lover to his molten core, is offering “Mont d’Or Dinners” through the end of November. Reader, I soldiered forth on a bitey night to check it out on your behalf.

Even if you don’t live within striking distance of Philadelphia, you can always host your own Mont d’Or Dinner. (See my tip for heating Vacherin in your oven — don’t forget to put foil under the box, and warm it gently at around 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. The cheese should to melt into fondue but not turn into an oily pool.)

Let me share Chef Peter Woolsey’s menu with you, for inspiration. Chef’s wife Peggy hails from the Jura, and he is headed to her family’s house this winter — presumably to eat raw-milk Mont d’Or.

Or, maybe it’s to see family?

Bistrot La Minette’s Mont d’Or Dinner

Salade Jurassiene: frisée, red leaf lettuce, and walnuts with cured French ham and Comté with a light vinaigrette

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Potée Jurassienne: cabbage soup with white beans, pork belly, leak, and potato

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Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or with potatoes, mushrooms, and locally made juniper-smoked sausage (Saucisse Morteu)

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Gateau Arboisien: chocolate cake with ground almonds and hazelnuts, served with vanilla ice cream

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To sip: Poulsard, Jura (red) | Chardonnay, Jura | Macvin du Jura (dessert wine)

Was it the smell of the Vacherin or the waiters in red vests dipping bottles of wine into our glasses? I don’t know, but I will tell you that our Mont d’Or Dinner sent my mood right to the ceiling. I felt my shoulders lift and saw a twinge of holiday spirit flit between the corners of my cat-eye glasses.

Warm cheese is uplifting. You and I know this.

May you enter a Mont d’Or state of mind. Happy November!

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To book a Mont d’Or Dinner at Bisrot la Minette: 215-925-8000. You’ll need a table of 4. The cost is $160; featured wines are not included.

To visit the Jura yourself: come with me on a Cheese Journey to explore Alpine cheeses in September 2018. I’ll be co-hosting this tour for a second time, and I can’t wait to go back!

Note: this experience was a press invite.

 

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