Swiss alpine cheese is one of the purest and most traditional food products in the world. However, even in its country of origin, consumers have little knowledge about alpine cheeses. This is understandable, as alpine cheeses are rare and available at only a few retailers. What’s more, consumers often confuse„alpine cheeses“ with „mountain cheeses“. Mountain cheeses are of a fairly different nature. They are produced in village dairies, mostly on a semi-industrial scale. The milk can come from many different sources, often transported over some distance. Furthermore, mountain cheeses can be produced all year round, with milk from cows being fed with dry feed; while genuine alpine cheese is hand made in summer with fresh raw milk from cows that graze freely on meadows at altitudes above 3000ft.
Only 2 percent of all Swiss cheese production is allowed to be called alpine cheese. That’s why even in their native country, Swiss alpine cheeses are rare.
After having moved from Switzerland to London, every time I visited my former home, I brought back a wheel of alpine cheese. Simply, because this kind of cheese was nowhere to be had in the UK. These cheeses were always gone very quickly, as all of my friends liked the taste of it. They wanted to know why the cheeses were so good, how they were produced, why they were so rare. Their questions prompted me to start on an adventure, exploring the world of Swiss alpine cheese further than I had known before. The more I’ve learnt, the more alpine farms I visited, the more cheesemakers I met, the more I became fascinated: Here is this 100% natural product, healthier than any other cheese – and hardly anybody knows about it. I had found my notion: I wanted to communicate the beauty of this cheese and make it accessible to cheese lovers in the UK. And by doing so, I wanted to help alpine farmers to sell their products well, in order to be able to continue living in their mountains and keep up their centuries old lifestyle.
Alpages.co.uk reflects the way in which alpine cheese makers live to create their products: It’s all about simplicity. By offering only a small selection of genuine Swiss alpine cheese variations, I help you to simplify your life, too.
Together with cheese-affineur Lee Aspinall, I’ve selected ten of the best ones. And believe me: We’ve sampled a lot of different cheeses and visited dozens of „alpages“ to find the best ones. Our cheeses don’t come from an anonymous source – we know the cheese makers, we know the farmers, we even know the names of some of their cows. That’s how we make sure to get the best products for you. We prefer farmers whose cows still have horns (unlike 98% of all cows in Europe) and we pay them fair prices to help them sustain their traditional work.
Gerhard Reinecke, founder of Alpages.co.uk