German cheese has kind of a bad rep. Or not really a rep at all, if you think about it. What do Americans think about when they think about German cheese? Probably that smeary, stanky Limburger cheese that's more often the butt of jokes than a key player at the dinner table.
But there's one German cheese exporter who's trying to change our trepidation into infatuation: Kaeskuche, a little 9-year-old operation run by Norbert Stieghart. Norbert's whole mission is to reacquaint the world with Bavarian cheeses (Bavaria being a primary cheese-producing region in Germany).
According to Norbert, after WWII, German cheesemakers and consumers became more interested in cheap protein sources than the care and craft of delicious cheese. It's been a long time since the country's traditional mountain cheeses have had a champion. Do a simple Google search and you'll see--quality German cheese is like a super fast unicorn that you only catch glittery glimpses of before wondering if you're just a crazy person standing alone in a fake enchanted forest.
Then in swoops Norbert! This guy is dedicated. He's so committed to German cheeses that he'll ride his trusty motorbike up grassy hills and gnarly peaks that cars can't reach (see above!), all to transport 30-pound wheels of cheese to his customers in Singapore, Dubai, and the United States. We're pretty lucky to have him, right?
Alpe Loch is one of these giant Bavarian beasts. The Fuchs family crafts this cheese at their high-altitude dairy, which was actually destroyed twice by avalanches in the past. Their cheese (which has been aged for over a year) bursts with all the nutty, grassy complexity that comes from cows allowed to graze on rich, green mountain pastures. This is cheese with character, cheese with a distinct Bavarian-ness that you'll only understand once you've taken a bite.
[awesome illustration by Cheesemonger Nate Braun]