Mont D’Or platter

We’ve pressed a pause on my Borough Market ‘Assemblies’ series — figuring that the theme is best suited to Spring and Summer, when throwing together a few raw ingredients with minimal fuss feels most appropriate.

As a parting shot, in my October post for their website, I wrote about a platter that could take you from this month all the way to the Spring equinox in March 2020. You might need to be flexible on the surrounding bits and pieces, but Vacherin Mont D’Or runs from now until then. A truly seasonal cheese that you need to climb on (in?) to right now.

Assemble away. The original post is here. And paraphrased below — it’s more a ramble round the Market than a recipe, but you’ll get the idea.

Loads more good things to read on Borough’s website — under ‘recipes’ and ‘articles’. My new series will be on market shopping and eating for one.

Golden Mountain

Mont D’Or is made from the autumn and winter milk of Montbeliarde or French Simmental herds of the Jura region in France, when those cows are brought down below the Alpine snow line to 700m. The result is a rich, creamy cheese that’s encased within a circular wooden box, and its own undulating, chalky, rind. Break through the rind to find molten dairy heaven — a natural fondue. You can bake it — as you would a Camembert — to enhance that gloop, but it’s not necessary (nor to my mind is it better than when devoured at room temperature).

I buy a Mont D’Or from Mons knowing that I would be quite happy to lock myself in a room with just this and a baguette. With friends coming round, though, I should probably do a little more (and suggest you do too).

Seek russet apples, or something crisp and tart, and a bag of lemony sorrel leaves; both of which will provide a fabulous contrast to the creamy cheese and savoury bread. (You might need to go with mustard leaves instead of sorrel later in the year, or perhaps something bitter, like radicchio or chicory once we’re into 2020).

Further, while this series has largely been about not cooking, I find myself thinking that shoving a couple of things in the oven for 30 minutes isn’t too far outside the remit; if the cheese is at room temperature, then a few warm crudités will be welcome over the colder months.

I convince myself that it’s OK when I see a basket of Pink Fir Apple potatoes which roast so brilliantly (I take 500g) and bag of Spanish grapes. Roasted in olive oil and showered with flakey salt, both of these ingredients will provide additional support for the cheesey centrepiece: the crunch and fluff of the potatoes are ideal vessels for the viscous cheese, and grapes will be an intense, jammy, raisiny contrast.

Even though you need to turn the oven on, it’s hands-free and ultimately an easy assembly that you’ll find proves itself to be even more than the sum of its parts.

To assemble 

(for 4 people)

Unwrap the Mont D’or and leave at room temperature to breath and warm up a little while the potatoes and grapes cook and you sort the rest your meal out.

Heat your oven to 220C. Ensure the potatoes are clean and around the size of a large thumb (cut larger ones in half). Place on a roasting tray with plenty of space around each potato, drizzle generously with olive oil and roast for 35 minutes. Give the tray a shake after 25 minutes, create a space to fit a bunch of grapes, then add those grapes and a little more oil and return to the oven for a final ten minutes.

Meanwhile place the Mont D’or in the middle of the table and cut a hole in the rind so that you and your guests can spoon the cheese on to you plates. Slice the bread and add it to the platter, along with a good handful of sorrel and slices of apple (if you’ve got russet apples slice these at the last minute as they go brown very quickly).

Finally, season the grapes and potatoes with a generous scattering of flakey salt and transfer them to your platter. Dig in.