Tag Archives: L’Etivaz

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Cheese of the Week: Rolf Beeler Reserve Gruyere


Wow! Master cheesemaker Rolf Beeler has swept this gruyere gal off her feet. I was already a passionate fan of gruyere – a greatly undersung cheese, I think, wasted in the vast melting pot of the typical less-than-exciting fondue. My fave cheese of late has been the L’Etivaz gruyere. So when I visited Berkeley’s eye-poppingly vast Cheese Board recently and asked the cheese expert what he had that was similar to L’Etivaz, he pulled out a great wheel of Rolf Beeler Gruyere.

Actually, he started me on an Emmi cave-aged gruyere, which was very good – tasty, redolent, interesting. But then he handed over the Rolf Beeler and, I repeat, Wow!

Everything about this cheese is right up front. Nothing holds back as an aftertaste. This bold cheese just hits you between the taste buds with its nutty, tangy, sweet, complex, cave-musty, buttery, slightly crystally, crunchy Wow. Bee-ler! Bee-ler! The man at the cheese counter elucidated how Beeler hand-crafted his cheese, visiting every cave and tapping on every wheel to choose the right ones for artisan aging. He’s definitely got a gift for gruyere.

Like L’Etivaz (also from the large Emmi producers), the Beeler is a raw-milk variety. It’s aged a full, old-school 16 months or more in carefully controlled, humid, cave-like conditions. Rolf Beeler is a relatively small-batch producer.

Unlike L’Etivaz, the Rolf Beeler Gruyere is not strictly an Alpage, or mountain pasture, cheese, a type made using only milk produced in warm seasons from high-altitude Alpine cows. Alpage cheeses have a reputation for tasting like the distinct Alpine flowers and grasses that make for summer grazing.

As the L’Etivaz is gone for the season, I’ll have to taste these Swiss gruyere giants against one another next year. In the meantime, I’m loading up on the outstanding Rolf Beeler.

This cheese pairs well with plenty of wines, especially a Syrah, but you may want to pop open a bottle of champagne to enjoy with the Beeler, toast the man, and celebrate the cheese’s specialness.

And, I know, you don’t have to tell me, it’s probably great in a fondue.


The big board at the Cheese Board

Top photo: Ready for our repast. We enjoyed our Rolf Beeler Gruyere with French oil-cured olives and a fresh ciabatta.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Cheese of the Week: Emmi L’Etivaz Raw Milk Gruyere


I love this cheese unconditionally. It’s exciting. It’s complex. It’s redolent. And it’s mighty tasty. It’s the taste that provides a wonderful surprise, because L’Etivaz has virtually no smell, no hint of the musty, aged quality it unearths on the taste buds. Like any good gruyere, the cheese is just firm enough to have a nice texture, and just soft enough to still offer a little give. The taste is strong and distinctive, somewhat nutty, with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Many different flavors mingle and linger, so that one enjoys the complex taste long after the cheese itself is gone. It’s got a bite to it, and a good mouth feel. Serve it with a full-bodied red wine, a hearty mushroom dish, or strong, tasty figs. You may also be inspired to bake with it — perhaps a French onion soup.

Cheese-o-philes already know this one’s special. It’s made by a small group of family cheesemakers in the Swiss Alps (near the village of Etivaz), who created it to preserve the old methods of heating milk in copper cauldrons over open wood fires, before processing it and aging it in caves. The milk is from high Alpine cows who graze only in summer, on a rare and fleeting combination of grass, flowers, and herbs. You can taste the tradition, geography and care in the cheese. Knowing its heritage, I feel extremely fortunate that it’s available at the corner market, and even more so that my husband brought some home, mistakenly thinking he was buying his favorite, and different, cave-aged gruyere.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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