Although Willi Schmid has only had his own dairy since 2006, in a short amount of time he has become an extremely well known cheese maker in Switzerland. Every morning before making any one of his two-dozen cheeses, he tastes the raw milk to determine which one it will be best in. Mr. Schmid is passionate about using only raw milk that he collects personally from local dairy farmers. He also allows the cheeses he creates to age in his cellar until they are ready to send out to affineurs and vendors. The result of his uncompromising dedication to quality is that Willi Schmid’s cheeses are some of the best in Switzerland. For the last thirty years, Rolf Beeler has had a small cheese booth located in Lucerne, Switzerland, that is dedicated to selling fine Swiss cheeses. Mr. Beeler works solely with small-scale cheesemakers. Although some producers are still dedicated to making very traditional Swiss cheeses, Beeler also works with many new and innovative cheesemakers. These producers have emerged in the last fifteen years as a direct result of the easing of strict regulations surrounding Swiss cheese production. Beeler, in partnership with Caroline Hostettler, was among the first to introduce quality artisanal Swiss cheese to America. He is a highly acclaimed affineur (one who matures cheese) as well as Master Cheesemonger and has been dubbed by his peers as “Switzerland’s Pope of Cheese.” Hoelzerne Geiss translates to Wooden Goat, referring to the band of spruce that is wrapped around the cheese. Made in a similar way to Bergfitche (see separate entry), a Swiss cow’s milk cheese, Hoelzerne Geiss is aged for 8 weeks. Like all washed rind cheeses, it has a pungent aroma, intensified by the fact that it is made from goat’s milk.
The top rind of the cheese can be cut away to reveal an unctuous and runny interior paste, which can then be spooned onto warm bread. Its flavor is a balance of tangy, slightly acidic goat’s milk, and the spruce wood, which imparts a pine-like nuance to the cheese. The result is complex and interesting.
Hoelzerne Geiss is a cheese that can stand-up to a heavy red wine such as a bold Cabernet Sauvignon or the opposite, such as an Alsatian Riesling. Serve it with fresh fruit such as apples or pears.