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When I was in Méribel avoiding the steep slopes waiting in line at the cheese coopérative, I wasn’t alone: the joint was seeing more action than all those gasp-inducing ski runs.


And just about every person ordered a nice hunk of Beaufort. And since they were in front of me in line, being France, of course each person had to have a 5 minute conference with the saleswoman about how to cut it, where they wanted it cut, exactly how much to lop off, if the other hunk on the shelf was better than the one they were getting, did they have another one in the back?…etc…etc…

The person in front of me scared me a bit when he requested a chunk that were as huge as a baseball mitt. It barely fit on the scale!

Naturally when it was my turn, it took me all of 1.3 seconds to tell her what I wanted and I ended up with a nice-sized piece as well—albeit of a more modest size—and could barely wait until I got home and dug into my chunk.

Like my dearly-beloved Comté, Beaufort is one of the mountain cheeses from the Jura and the Savoie. The nutty, milky, and dense cheeses from those regions are the ones that are impossible to resist when faced with the decision with what to buy at my fromagerie.

Like its relatives, including Swiss Gruyère, Beaufort will be aged for a number of months after it’s formed. Although all Beaufort gets aged a minimum of 5 months before it hits the shelves; the longer it’s aged, the nuttier, gently-sharper, and more deeply-flavored it becomes. And if I’m going to plow through a slab of cheese this big (ok…not a problem…a week later and it’s almost gone…), it had better be the best it can be. So I look for one that’s aged at least 18 months. Or longer, if possible.

Beaufort d’été is made from raw milk taken from cows twice a day, which graze on wild grass only during the summer months. That tends to make the milk sweeter than the rest of the year so the cheese made from that milk is considered even more special than plain ‘ol Beaufort. All cows must be from the same herd to conform to AOC standard, too. (And you think I’m kidding with all the rules around here for how I’m supposed to behave?)

Beaufort d'ete

In my opinion, Beaufort is best eaten on its own; I like it with lightly-toasted slices of a baguette, especially one that’s speckled with a métro-load of seeds inside and out. But just a good, plain baguette ordinaire ain’t nothing to sneeze at either.

For the hedonistic, it would probably make an excellent grilled cheese sandwich, but it’ll kill me to hear about it melted atop a frozen pizza. No matter how many glasses of wine you have alongside. (I did have a great grilled Beaufort panini slope-side, as part of my sumptuous birthday lunch.) But all by its lonesome, if there’s a nice glass of cool white wine nearby—such as Sauvignon or something as smooth as a Riesling or a Pinot Gris from the Savoie—I’m not going to give you any grief about it. In fact, I heartily endorse it.

(And wasn’t so bad with the rather-dry grapefruit soda I had with my lunch either.)

Because it’s aged longer than 60 days, Beaufort is available elsewhere, including in the United States, perhaps at your local cheese shop. It can be mail-ordered here and here. Or you can meet me on (or off) the slopes next year in Méribel. I’ll be easy to find; just follow your nose…and the smell of Beaufort.

For those interested, the Beaufort cheese cooperative has a shop and tasting room in Paris.


    • Lucy Vanel

    Je t’adore, David! A grilled cheese sandwich sounds like just the thing. I love the co-ops. L

    • kayenne

    at the risk of sounding truly ignorant, is beaufort much like parmesan and a hard cheese?

    I’m from a cheese-impoverish country where a mention of cheese normally conjures up a bar of processed quickmelt from kraft or some other brand. where parmesan is a tin of sand-dry kraft pre-grated parmesan topping – which I refuse to buy anymore (I get a nice hunk from a local deli selling overpriced imported cheeses, meats and stuff). I’ve seen a lot of cheeses, but is too scared to try them (tried some really pungent cheese from a hotel once when I was 12 – EEK!).

    What would you recommend for a cheese toddler like me? take note that i didn’t enjoy quezo de bola, or edam.

    • krysalia

    I love beaufort, it has such a silky taste, strong and “c’est trés fin?”
    La fois !

    One thing i’m really fond of, is one little square (1 inch) of Beaufort or Comté with one perfectly round big drop of honey on top of it.

    The two tastes enhance each other wonderfully : )

    • David

    Kayenne: Asking to pick a cheese for someone is like asking to pick a wine! Most people like Gruyère, Comté, and Emmenthal. Norwegian Jarlsberg and NY State cheddars are good, and often readily available in places were ‘fancier’ cheeses aren’t.

    If anyone else has any recommendations or favorite cheeses, would love to hear about them…

    • anita

    my two roomies, one was from the region where comte is common and the other from the region of beaufort – used to bring back slabs of cheese for us to taste and tell them which one was better :)

    for all that comte is excellent, beaufort is by far my favorite – just don’t tell myriam that!

    • Bob Spencer

    Where does one find this seeded baguette you mention? Et que s’appelle-t-il en français ?

    • David

    Bob: You can find ’em here and here.

    But sadly, no longer here.

    • sam

    I love Beaufort too – sometimes they sell it at Cowgirl in SF. That family of cheeses – Comte, Gruyere and the like is my favourite. I was a cheddar girl til I met Fred. Now there is nothing wrong with a good cheddar, but I simply prefer these Alpy cheese. I love them. They are the best.

    • Meg

    David, I hope you won’t think me a Philistine, but my main use for Beaufort is as a main ingredient in a fondue Savoyarde. Over the years, the proportion of Beaufort has steadily increased – but I also save a bit to eat alone, so does that redeem me? Seriously, it’s fantastic melted, in a fondue or even a (gasp) cauliflower gratin.

    I’m losing street cred with you now, right? I’ll just shut up…

    • Claire

    Kayenne: The best thing to do is to find a good cheesemonger near you, or at least a deli which sells a range of decent cheeses. These people are the ones to speak to. They are always generous, in my experience, and will let you taste everything before you buy it, using what you think of the first thing they give you to taste to suggest something next, and so on til you find your perfect cheese!

    • one food guy

    That’s a fantastic photo of “knife in cheese”. There is a great cheese shop in Wellesley, MA where I buy my cheeses from, I’ll have to see if they have some Beaufort!

    • kayenne

    thanks for the tips!

    i recall having gruyere and raclette in a savory crepe once… but mixed with other ingredients, i couldn’t really taste it much…

    i think i’ll try to get a small hunk of comte and beaufort next time i’m in the deli. i think we still have a jar of raw honey on the pantry. =D

    • David

    Yes, a good cheese shop will let you taste..or if you’re in France, will tell you what to buy. They don’t do the take-a-taste thing here in France, but if it’s hard to wrong with any of the cheeses and I just take their advice and haven’t been steered wrong.

    One very comprehensive source for French cheeses is, and they seem to ship everywhere. (Although I do recommend supporting your local cheese merchant, if possible: It’s beautiful work that they do.)

    I was browsing their website and not only do they have a good cheese library (as do my friends at Cowgirl Creamery)…but like the rest of France—they’re having a sale right now!

    • denise

    For those of you in the States, a magnificent Beaufort type is available from Uplands Cheese Company. It’s called Pleasant Ridge Reserve and has won many awards.

    This is probably the best cheese I have ever put in my mouth!

    • Bob Spencer

    Merci d’information.

    • EB

    How lucky am I that I get to head over to Cowgirl Creamery on my lunch hour?? Mmmmm.

    • krysalia

    my favorite cheese besides 24 months comté, is extra old mimolette (24months too) . It’s nearly a piece of stone looking from the outside, but with such a nice taste inside, cracks and little holes, the taste enhance itself far beyond the plastic like, dull young mimolette, which is just good enough to be grated on macaroni :) . The texture of the old one is really interesting too, the cheese gets some nobleness with time going by.

    • hag

    A cheese library?! Could I actually get a job as a cheese librarian?!
    I am fortunate, in Vancouver I can get Beaufort at
    Les Amis du Fromage along with many, many other fantastic cheeses.
    Happy belated birthday… the frites in your birthday lunch looked really good!

    • neil

    I was devastated to discover my wife didn’t like gruyere, which I had been consuming for years, though on the upside, it meant more for me. Eventually we discovered comte and beaufort, which she slowly learned to like, they are mellower, or as my wife succinctly put it, they didn’t smell like vomit. After a few years I bought home a piece of gruyere for a recipe, she tried a bit, now she loves it.


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