As eagerly anticipated among its fervent followers as Christmas Day is among the townsfolk of Whoville, Vacherin Mont d’Or is a truly seasonal cheese, made from the autumn and winter milk of the same speckled Swiss cows that give us Swiss Gruyère. Unless you smuggle the raw-milk variety past Customs, you’ll have to settle for a fromage made from milk that’s been thermized (like pasteurization-lite). Still, when perfectly ripe and properly oozing, it’s a fairly spectacular thing with a relentlessly barnyard-y aroma. Eat it with a spoon from its sprucewood container with some fruit and nuts, or wrap it in foil, box and all, and pop it in the oven for a no-cleanup-required fondue.
Preheat oven to 375. (1) Discard the box lid, and prick the top of the cheese’s rind a few times with a knife. (2) Insert garlic cloves into the cheese, and drizzle the wine over the top. (3) Wrap the cheese (still in its box) in a piece of aluminum foil, leaving the top open. Place in oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping and cornichons, or spooned over boiled potatoes. Serves 4.