Forsterkase: Savory Cheese for Autumn

October 19, 2010

Fosterkase, meaning “lumberjack cheese,” does not call to mind boot-strapping men with axes. Rather, it is soft and gooey and needs a fir bark band to give it some backbone. With its punched-in center and sodden band, Forsterkase looks like a vintage suitcase that has washed ashore after a storm.

Forsterkase is a soft cow’s milk cheese from Toggenburg, Switzerland. It is washed in a white wine brine. The bark band encircling its outer wall looks like wet cardboard, but the bark enhances Forsterkase’s aroma and flavor.

Forsterkase has a pinky-melon rind that feels like it has been dusted with granulated sugar. The interior paste is butter yellow and looks squishy and wet. Our photo of Forsterkase shows some collapse of the cheese; this collapse continued as the cheese remained out of refrigeration.

Fosterkase has a peculiar aroma. The interior paste smells like meat; I kept thinking of white veal sausage. The bark wrapper adds a woody cedar chest scent to the cheese that is also detectable in Forsterkase’s rind. The combination of scents is not appealing, yet these can be avoided by keeping the cheese away from the nose.

Forsterkase tastes like meat. It has smoky and savory flavors. Its flavors coat the mouth and leave a salty sour flavor on the tongue. The flavors are well-balanced and do not over-whelm. There is variety and depth to Forsterkase’s flavors that encourage slow eating. The cheese has a thick and smooth texture in the mouth.

Forsterkase was a hit during our tasting. One of our juvenile tasters rejected this cheese as “too tangy,” yet all other tasters liked it. We tasted Forsterkase on a rainy, cool day and the cheese’s richness and full flavors seem well-paired to autumn weather.

Forsterkase is not a picnic cheese, nor is it suited to a communal party plate. Yet it seems too special to eat without friends.

Purchasing Notes: We purchased Forsterkase from 24th Street Cheese Co. (San Francisco). The cheesemonger cut our sample from a fresh round, so there was no degradation or collapse before purchase. During our tasting, Forsterkase continued to collapse into the plate the longer it was out of refrigeration.


2 Responses to “Forsterkase: Savory Cheese for Autumn”

  1. Matty Sarro Says:

    Greetings! We actually just tried this cheese this evening. We picked it up from our local Wegmans – a large chain grocer which tends to have “upscale” foods, including a rather sizable cheese selection. Anyways, my initial impression after unbagging was that it smelled like cave mold, ammonia, and a touch grassy. On the palette it was extremely light – which was surprising considering they had it labelled as an “intense cheese.” On its own it was a lovely savory taste, but paired with almost anything completely overshadowed the flavor of the cheese. Fig jam and mustard both completely masked it. We did have much better success with orange blossom honey, and lavender jam (both have much more subtle flavors). The rind was impossible to cut through – we had to saw at it with a cheese knife, and it was utterly tasteless by itself – and pretty much impossible to chew through. Like wet cardboard. The cheese directly next to it however had the smokey, meaty taste you described. Great review – and I agree 100%, this is a special cheese, but may not be quite right to have out on a community plate. It needs to stand alone, shared with some friends.

    • Hi Matty: Mmm…lavender jam…that sounds delicious! If you liked Forsterkase and have a good cheese source, look for these cheeses from American makers: Winnimere from Jasper Farms, Vermont; and, Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co., Wisconsin. Both are superb, bark-banded cheeses that have a similar look and feel to Forsterkase. The Winnimere is closer in taste profile, but if the taste of Forsterkase didn’t intrigue you, then look for Rush Creek. I think Winnimere arrives in the deep winter months, but Rush Creek should be hitting markets soon. Happy eating!


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