Friday, September 4, 2009

Celebrate Fall with these German Gems

Let me just say, I love this cheese!

Hirtenkäse, or "herder's cheese", is a rustic and savory hard cheese, traditionally handmade in the Allgäu mountain region in the South of Germany. It is an authentic mountain cheese with a rugged, earthy aroma.

The rich cow's milk for this yummy gem comes from mountain farmers. There are only about 12-15 cows per farm, so they are very well cared for, resulting in wonderful, rich milk. In mid-September there is a big festival in the Allgäu, where the lead cow is decorated with flowers and she is herded down from the mountains to the barn.

This cheese itself is a rich golden, buttery-yellow color. The texture is firm and rustic, the flavor savory and earthy, with a lovely waxy sweetness.

Try it with whole grain breads, fresh apples or dried figs. Delicious when shaved over a crisp salad, coarsely grated over roasted potatoes, or mixed into hot pasta with chunks of ripe, local tomatoes. Excellent with a full-bodied red wine, or follow my lead and celebrate the fall season and have it with Hofbrau Munchen's Oktoberfestbier!

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