Home in Southern California, I was on a mission to find Emmental or Emmentaler – aka Swiss cheese with the holes. Having written about various cheesemaking regions around Switzerland and walked with reverence through low-lit cheese caves big and small, I forever crave the floral aromas, nutty flavors and buttery texture of this legendary mountain cheese made in the high elevations of the Alps.
But I discovered that the semi-hard yellow cheese made in the traditional method using raw cow’s milk (that originated in the Emmental region, possibly as far back as the 13th century) is not easy to find in SoCal…until some research led me to the Cheese Cave in Claremont, California, 30 minutes from where I live. How divine is that?
Marnie Clarke, co-owner of the Cheese Cave, knows cheese. She comes from a dairy family. After college she decided to continue the family legacy, learned cheesemaking, and with her sister launched the business in 2010 in Claremont where they grew up.
At any one time, their shop carries 4-10 cheeses from Switzerland. Some of Marnie’s favorites include Challerhocker, Schnebelhorn, Hornbacher and Aarwasser.
I had texted my order for two Emmentalers: Rahmtaler, the younger and creamier version, aged six-months (a regular offering at the shop) and the 12-month semi-hard Emmentaler AOP or Appellation d’Origine Protegee (not so regular). Wheels of the cheese are BIG – over three feet in diameter and weigh about 200 lbs.
Then, peering into the case, my husband and I lusted over sausages and more luxurious cheeses from France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Ireland, Corsica, and the U.S. that teased our tastebuds and pocketbook.
During the holidays, the Cheese Cave looks forward to special shipments of more Swiss cheeses: L’Etivaz AOP, a hard cheese similar to Gruyere; and Sbrinz AOP, Switzerland’s version of Parmesan cheese). Oh la la!
Cheese is the main event at the Cheese Cave, but the other half of the shop stocks cool hand-selected food items, wine, and more.
The Cheese Cave has another location in Downtown Los Angeles: inside the historic Grand Central Market called, what else? DTLA Cheese – quite possibly the only cut-to-order shop in the downtown neighborhood.
Now, when our Emmentaler stash runs out, I know where to beeline.