Pronunciation: [vash-RA<em>N</em>]

Any of several rich and creamy cow's-milk cheeses from France or Switzerland. The names are a bit confusing because France and Switzerland both called their cheese Vacherin Mont d'Or or simply Mont d'Or. The Swiss and French cheeses, which are made right across the border from each other, are very similar except that the Swiss versions can use either raw or pasteurized milk, whereas the French cheeses are made only with unpasteurized cow's milk. Both the French and Swiss versions are made in wheels weighing 6½ pounds or less and encircled by a band of wood. Their rinds are light to dark gold with patches of white mold, their interiors ivory colored and their semisoft texture is smooth and creamy, almost becoming runny with ripening. Their complex flavors have earthy and mushroomy traits. The Swiss make another cheese, called Vacherin Fribourgeois, in the canton of Fribourg in western Switzerland. It's produced in 15- to 20-pound wheels that have golden to reddish-brown rinds and pale yellow interiors with small irregular eyes. It's semihard with a smooth, supple texture and flavors exhibiting nuts, spices and caramel.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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