After a slight uptick in warmth (very slight), we’re back to slushy, grey winter, which is perfect for Alpine cheeses. Yes, Alpine cheeses are good anytime of year. But today I want something velvety, creamy, and semi-firm. Something to melt over toast that I will eat on the couch wrapped up in a fluffy blanket, basically a nice warm hug inside and out.
The cheese I have my eye on for this cozy night is Üsi Minnie. A brand spankin’ new cheese for us, Üsi Minni is made by Christian Oberli of Kaseri Oberli, situated at an elevation of 2000 feet above the town of St. Gallen in Switzerland. He named the cheese Üsi Minnie, or Our Minnie, for his favorite cow, and the small size of the wheel gives it a double meaning. We love any type of pun in the cheese world (see: our shop mascot, Curdis, get it??). This four pound wheel is little for Alpine cheeses, which are usually closer to 60 to 80 pounds, because it is made in the Mutschli style with the small amount of leftover curds from Gruyère production. Traditionally, Mutschli cheese was made in a normal sized pot over the family stove as opposed to in huge copper vats, also limiting the size.
While the larger wheels need long aging, Mustichli cheese is shared much sooner, usually with friends who climb to the mountain cheesemakers, bringing supplies and news from the villages below. I love this image of a couple people taking a hike on a beautiful summer Sunday morning to visit their friends herding animals and making cheese in the Alps. I picture them walking though wildflowers and green grasses, reaching the high pastures where they find their friends’ hut surrounded by cows, ready for a drink and a hunk of smooth Üsi Minnie. The flavors of toasted walnuts and fresh hay with a yogurty tang would go perfectly with an ice-cold beer after a walk up an alp.
However, since I don’t often (hopefully one day…) hike the Alps, I will be satisfied instead daydreaming about it, cuddled up on the couch under a blanket in the dead of winter, munching on my toast with melted Üsi Minnie.
For the love of cheese and pretend perfect hikes,