pommes sur canapé : Mont d’Or fondu avec pommes de terre (Mont d’Or fondue with fingerling potatoes)

Cheese and Potatoes

pommes sur canapé :
Mont d’Or fondu avec pommes de terre
(Mont d’Or fondue with fingerling potatoes)

I like to play with words almost as much as I like to play with food. “Pommes sur canape is my own jeu de mots (play on words). In French, pommes (or pommes de terre) means potato while canapé is French for both a couch and an appetizer. Accordingly,pommes sur canapé” means both “couch potato” and “potato appetizer.” I thought of this silliness as I placed my annual order for the seasonal treasure Mont d’Or and it is the combination of the two that brings us this week’s simple pleasure: Mont d’Or fondu avec pommes de terre (Mont d’Or fondue with fingerling potatoes).


Couch Potatoes

couch potatoes

Mont d’Or (“mawn DOR”) is a raw cow’s milk cheese available for a very limited time in the fall, generally mid-October though November. If you appreciate cheese, as I do, you know it is a gastronomical treasure. Mont d’Or comes from Mont d’Or (golden mountain) which lies in France and Switzerland both of whom make this cheese. The Swiss version is “Vacherin Mont d’Or” and often made from pasteurized milk. The French version, “Mont d’Or” or “Vacherin du Haut Doubs” is made only from unpasteurized milk. It gained A.O.C. status in 1981.

Mont d’Or is pressed in a mold and ripened in cellars on spruce planks. The rind is washed with brine as it ages. The result is a creamy and buttery soft goodness. The taste is warm with grassy freshness and a hint of woodsy earthiness. Mont d’Or is such a treat that it is generally eaten out of the spruce wheel with nothing more than a teaspoon. It is also commonly enjoyed as a fondue accompanied by potatoes (popular in the ski lodges in the Alps). “Fondue,” from the French past-tense verb “fondu” for “melted,” is generally a combination two to three cheeses (i.e., Beaufort, Emmentaler, Comté, Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Gouda, Asiago) melted with a liquid (i.e., white wine, kirsch, beer, mustard, or cognac) to give the cheese a smoother, thinner consistency. Sometimes garlic, truffles, shallots, mushrooms, and even lobster or spices are added to the cheese melange. What cheese is used depends upon the region. In Normandy, for example, they use Norman cheeses (i.e., Camembert, Pont L’Eveque) with some Calvados and mushrooms. In the Northern Italy, fondue (“fonduta”) is made with Fontina cheese, buttermilk, egg yolks, and white truffles.

When it comes to Mont d’Or, I am a purist. Mont d’Or needs nothing else to make it more fondue like nor should the delicate and layered flavor be masked or diluted by any other ingredients. In my opinion, save the brandy and even the truffles for a less extraordinary and rare cheese. Mont d’Or is perfect, just as it is.

I wrote the recipe using potatoes. However, if you are not on the ski slopes and want something a little lighter, fresh fruit and vegetables pair nicely with the cheese. My personal favorites include: endive leaves, apples, Asian pears, Bosc pears, raw mushrooms, and golden cauliflower florets. You do not need a fancy fondue set just use wooden skewers or cocktail forks and serve the cheese straight out of the spruce wheel. Or, enjoy Mont d’Or alone with a teaspoon as you would sip a rare brandy. It is that good. Mont d’Or can be purchased on the internet and a select few cheese shops in Los Angeles. It is available right now in fromageries throughout Paris.

Je vous souhaite un bon appétit !




Pommes sur canapé

Mont d’Or fondu avec pommes de terre
(Mont d’Or fondue with fingerling potatoes)


serves 8-10

what you need:

1 wheel Mont d’Or (or Vacherin du Haut Doubs or Vacherin Mont d’Or)

1 tablespoon olive oil
24 new fingerling potatoes or baby new potatoes
sel de Guérande (as needed)

other sides
Mutsu apple, cored and sliced
Pink Lady apple, cored and sliced
Asian pear, cored and sliced
Bosc pear, cored and sliced
endive leaves, core removed
Crimini mushrooms, quartered
golden cauliflower florets, blanched

how to:

  • Boil Potatoes. Place potatoes (skins on) in a saucepan filled with salted cold water. Boil until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy (they should still hold their shape). Drain. The potatoes can be boiled in advance and refreshed in a sauté pan later. 
  • Bake Cheese. Place the Mont d’Or wheel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrapping and top lid. Do not remove the spruce wheel. Use a skewer or toothpick to pierce the center of the top skin over the cheese. Place the cheese in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until warm and the cheese is oozing out of edges along the spruce strip. 
  • Warm Potatoes. While the cheese is warming place a cast-iron skillet or large sauté pan over a medium-high flame. When pan is warm, add olive oil. Add potatoes and toss in the oil. Cook until the skins are slightly browned as you want to add a little crisp texture to the skins (Alternatively, you can roast the potatoes in the oven if you prefer). Season potatoes with quality sea salt while they are warm. 
  • Serve. Serve cheese immediately with the warm potatoes on the side.
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