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A Tour of Switzerland - Tête de Moine AOP and the Swiss Canton of Jura

The canton of Swiss Jura, nature in its raw state

Unfairly ignored, this little piece of Jura in western Switzerland is nevertheless worth a detour. Magnificent landscapes, traditional festivals, culinary discoveries await the curious visitor.

The Swiss Jura is a mountain range whose summit rises to 5,500 ft above sea level, located northwest of the Swiss Alps. Throughout the Jura chain follow one another the alpine pastures dotted with impressive pine forests, the valleys, the deep gorges and the steep limestone walls of the Creux-du-Vent.

This region, protected by the last folds of the Jura, is the kingdom of jagged pine ridges. The word "Jura" also comes from "jorat", the forest ... and there are indeed many of them in this region! As well as marshy areas and many preserved ecosystems.

Unspoiled nature

The green meadows alternate with cereal crops and orchards of fruit trees, which notably produce the famous Damassine (a small red plum native to Damascus from which the Jurassians derive a delicious brandy). On the high-plateau franc-montagnard, horses running free, majestic fir trees and farms with large roof sections shape a characteristic landscape that is unique in Switzerland. The horse country is aptly named because it is home to the only breed of horses indigenous to Switzerland, the Franches-Montagnes breed. The unspoiled and omnipresent nature lends itself to the practice of all outdoor sports, in all seasons, and at the pace of each one. From golf to sport climbing, including canoeing, horse riding, cross-country skiing or mountain biking.

The festival of Saint Martin

When the month of November arrives, the rural world meets each year at the end of a cycle. The harvests are in, the major agricultural works are finished. In the Swiss Jura, between the villages of Porrentruy and Chevenez, it's Saint Martin's Day. Tradition has it that in each family a pig is sacrificed at the beginning of November; we smoke all the pieces that can be, and with what remains the villagers share a grand feast! The festivities now last 3 weeks. Restaurant owners offer the opportunity to eat the St-Martin meal for three weekends, before, during and after the usual feast. A week before the festival, a pig is slaughtered which will provide the basis for this grand feast.

Horses also have the right to retire! And no pension problem: a little grass, a roof, and voila. This is what the creator of the Foundation for the Horse must have said to himself. This "retirement home" for man's best friend was invented by Hans Schwarz in 1958. Since then, horses, after a life of hard work, can rest and have happy days in the pastures. des Franches-Montagnes, and maybe come across ... bison!

Because, at the bend of a grove of the Swiss Jura, you can come across a herd of bison grazing peacefully. No, you are not dreaming and you are not in danger of being attacked by Indians! The explanation is that a fond of America and nature planted his tipi around Boncourt and brought bison to Switzerland. At the foot of the Jura they find the large green spaces they need and fit in perfectly!

Tête de Moine AOP, tasty and refined

Originally from the Swiss Jura, Tête de Moine AOP is 1.5 lbs of delicacies in a cylinder about ten centimeters high.

Cheese made from raw milk and semi-cooked pressed paste, it is eaten by the “head”! This is one of the possible origins of its name: it is said to recall the tonsure of the monks who originally made it in the Abbey of Bellelay. A document from 1192 states that the monks will have to pay the annual royalties of certain properties with cheese from the Abbey! The second possible origin of the name refers to a quantity of cheese stored at the abbey “by Tête de Moine”.

Today, Tête de Moine AOP is produced in seven cheese factories, in accordance with the specifications of its protected designation of origin (AOP) and in accordance with the traditional know-how of the cheese makers. They only use raw mountain milk, fresh daily, full of the flavors of the rich alpine flora of the high pastures. The wheels weighing 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs are then matured between 75 and 120 days on spruce planks.

Tête de Moine AOP offers a very fine paste that melts in the mouth. It is best enjoyed in the form of delicate and generous Rosettes obtained with a Girolle®. Very decorative, they are perfect for a gourmet aperitif or on a platter.

In order to mark with a milestone, the 20 years of AOP registration, the Tête de Moine sector collaborated with Éditions D + P SA in Delémont to produce the book entitled Univers de la Tête de Moine . This book traces the odyssey of the Tête de Moine, from the original nucleus of Bellelay to its influence on the world cheese market. This reference book with elegant graphics paints the portrait of this cheese with character. But also that of the many players who passionately contribute to its success, from the dairy barn to the Michelin-starred restaurant, including cheese factories.

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