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.