Food Fight! Mont d’ Or vs. Ofenkäse

Allemande versus Frankrreich!

Now, you didn’t think that I bought bread from Backstube just for any old reason, did you?

Ever since Marketmanila turned me on to David Lebovitz, I’ve been following his blog to get ideas on what other foods that I have to try before leaving this earth.

A trip to the Swiss-French border last week, concentrated around Geneva, gave me an excuse to try out Mont d’ Or, an unpasturized raw milk cheese made near that area. David made a blog post about Mont d’ Or that piqued my curiosity. I was getting ready to hunt down fromageries in France for it, but all I needed to do was go down to the next Migros supermarket, which had the last seven boxes of this cheese in one of its refrigerated shelves. It was a bit pricey, € 6,99 for a wooden carton (I made sure the box was stapled and the cheese au lait cru, David, in case you are reading this. But that is wishful thinking).

Then I thought, why not try it side by side with German Ofenkäse? This is also basically fondue in a box. So off to the supermarket to get a wooden carton of Ofenkäse from Allgäu, and beat it to a friend’s house to share the goodies, eat a cheese dinner and make the comparison.

wine

Next to the Migros in Neydens in France is a wine store, and I was quite relieved that the young proprietor spoke English. I asked for a wine that went with the cheese, and recommended this bottle from Switzerland, since I am partial to sweet and fruity wines. Fendant only cost me € 11 a bottle, which is quite cheap for Swiss wine. I opened this bottle of wine and drank it with my friend while we prepared the cheese the same way, the way David described on his blog post.

After thinly slicing two cloves of garlic, and inserting a total of one clove in each cheese into slits cut into the top of both , I splashed a generous amount (half a cup) of wine into both cheeses. The Mont d’ Or was then wrapped in aluminum foil with the top exposed, while the Ofenkäse was left to bake as it was.

At the halfway mark (15 minutes), I took the Ofenkäse out of the oven and sliced the top to expose the cheese inside, according to package instructions. At thirty minutes we took both the cheeses out and I made several photographs.

cheese2

As one could see, the Ofenkäse on the right looked like melted cheese on pizza. The Mont d’ Or on the left looked untouched.

Then we set sliced bread and the cheeses onto the table and had it with a salad of carrots and apples with creme fraiche dressing and cornichons. The French would gasp in horror, I know. But I made sure to eat all of the sour foods at the end and wash each bite of cheese with water so as to not spoil my taste buds.

It kind of felt wrong to have such a decadent dinner on a Friday. I was supposed to abstain from meat because of Lent, but it doesn’t make sense to abstain from meat when these cheeses were just so fatty.

cheese3Mont d’ Or is delightfully French. My first bite smelled and tasted like a smelly armpit. It was fatty, gooey,  and funky. It left a fatty deposit on my palate and my lips, as if I ate a bowlful of Nilagang baka, a very fatty Filipino beef stew. However, I would like to also add my discovery that Mont d’ Or is not my favorite cheese, as I am more partial to pungent goat cheeses.  Not that Mont d’ Or is not good. Au contraire.

After sampling Ofenkäse then Mont d’ Or, in that sequence, my friend announced her regrets for not eating more of the Ofenkäse because “how can anybody go back to eating that stuff?”

At this point I had almost forgotten the German cheese and ate it. Yuck! It tasted like nothing! It seemed different to me in every bite. Where there was harmony in the fat and garlic taste of the Mont d’ Or, there was only dissonance in Ofenkäse. It tasted in turns like air, then strongly of garlic, then like processed cheese food, a factory-like, completely manufactured flavor.

I’m sorry to say that when it comes to cheeses, the French just K.O’d the Germans.

 

“Solange die Fahne Weht”–Backstube Erfurt

Fresh, artisanal bread is one of the best things to eat in the morning. No matter if it’s Filipino pan de sal or German bread rolls, nothing beats the simplicity of melting butter on warm baked goods.

When I could, I try to patronize Backstube. It is a bakery that I discovered last summer, near the playground I took  my son to behind the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt. Germans hate the fluffy, airy pan Americano style, and are proud of their bread–coarse on the outside, dense yet pliable on the inside. These things are heavy. You could actually take these loaves to demonstrations and throw them at policemen. Maybe they’ll thank you for it.

They use organic flour from the region, and do not use preservatives on their bread. I am not a strict granola mom, but I am a big fan of buying local. The loaves are pricy, 3 euros for a 500g loaf, and 40 cents for a roll.  They would cost half of that at another bakery, but I am more than happy to spend that money on a quality product. they have rye bread, wheat bread, and a mixture of both flours, known here as Mischbrot. Not a lot to offer, but they are really good at what they do. They also have Spanish wheat bread, since one of the owners is Spanish.

They are part of the growing food culture here in Thüringia, and I am very happy to be part of that!

They don’t really have regular hours. But if you see the flag up, you know they’re there!

Backstube Erfurt

Kreuzgasse 2, 99084 Erfurt

Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm.