Laguiole is produced in 100 lb wheels which makes for all kinds of contortions necessary to first get the darn thing onto the counter and then, of course, to cut it. You may not know this, but cutting cheese requires a bit of math and a ration of strategy; as the story goes, each piece of cheese should have the same amount of rind. Some cheeses should be cut in triangular shapes, some in wedges, some in full rounds, etc. Cut it wrong and someone ends up with a slice that is all rind, or completely rindless. I'm not sure, but I'd guess that this would be a criminal offence in France.
The history of massive wheels of cheese is really a common-sense story; several peasant families would pool their milk together and send it to the cheese maker to make a cheese that would last the winter for them. The cheese maker would make and age this monster cheese and deliver it back to the village sans his share as remuneration. Each family would take their portion, keep it wrapped in burlap or other material, nestle it in the root cellar (with the wine) and voila-cheese for the long winter!
Wrapping Laguiole in oiled burlap and storing it in your wine cellar is still an option; however you can also consider the alternative of keeping it loosely wrapped in paper, tucked into a zip lock and stored in the bottom region of your fridge away from the air vent. If a bit of extra cheese mold appears near the rind or on the face of the cheese, trim it or brush it off. The rind of large cheeses is prone to a bit of bluing, so don't be surprised if you end up with a bit of blue cheese if you let it languish a while. If you find you can't consume it all within a week or so, grate it, freeze it and use it in pasta, sauces and on veggies (no need to thaw).
Laguiole is made in the same ancient village as the famous knives and corkscrews. Only the milk of the Aubrac cows is used to form the cheese which is aged over 6 months before exportation. Laguiole cheese can be aged several years and intensifies in flavor and becomes very dry the older it ages. Laguiole reminds us of Lancashire from England. It has a crumbly texture and a creamy flavor and is a perfect melting cheese. If added to your cheese course, serve with fresh sliced apples or pears.
Laguiole is a match made in heaven for a light to medium bodied red wine (like Sangiovese, Pinot Noir or Gamay). For cuisine, work it into homey, peasant foods. Make mashed potatoes (do not spare the butter and cream) and then blend in a fair amount of grated Laguiole cheese, till the mixture is somewhat dry and manageable. Make potato "balls" of the mixture and fry up in a bit of olive oil and (more) butter until brown, flattening them out a bit as you do. Serve with bacon and eggs on Sunday and don't forget the Mimosa or Moscato d'Asti. Enjoy!
About the Cheesemonger
The cheesemonger has two locations: The Grapevine Wine & Cheese Shop located in downtown Willow Glen, CA and Good Tastes Wine, Cheese & Tasting Bar located in downtown Campbell, CA. Selecting cheese at these shops could not be easier or more fun. They have a wide selection of high quality cheese from throughout the world with new shipments frequently arriving. All cheese can be tasted prior to purchase and is cut to order. And if you are not sure what you want, their knowledgeable staff will gladly help you pick out the perfect cheese. Stop by and check out this month's featured cheese or join their bi-monthly Cheese club and be surprised by the outstanding cheeses provided to you! Copyright 2007, Willow Glen Wine Merchants, Inc. Permission is required for any reproduction.