Where to find pine-needle cheese (May newsletter)

by Gigi Griffis
pine needle cheese

A few years ago, I was invited to a food event at a Swiss winery in Spiez.

I wandered through vineyards. I rubbed elbows with Swiss culinary experts. And I tried something I’d never had before:

Pine-needle cheese.

The man who’d brought it was a cheese expert from the region. He explained each of his special, unique cheeses in detail. He was the kind of guy who quite literally knew the names of the cows who made each cheese. The exact kind of vendor I love to buy from.

At the time, he gave me his card and told me to visit the Bern farmers market on a Saturday sometime. His stand was there all summer.

Now, years later, my partner and I have rented a room not so far from Bern for the summer. We arrived on a Friday in late May and the very first thing we did Saturday morning was catch the local train to the Swiss capital to explore its farmers market.

We bought bull heart tomatoes and focaccia bread with olive oil, strawberries and beans, jam and honey. And then we wound our way to the back corner of the market to the stand called Bruni.

“Do you still have pine-needle cheese?” I asked.

And was rewarded with a yes.

The passionate cheese vendor was still selling unusual, beautiful, strange cheeses like the one I craved. We bought a big hunk and took it home for dinner.

And how can I describe it?

It’s a bit like a brie with pine needles crushed up inside the cheese’s crust. The center is creamy and lightly tart. And the needles themselves add an earthy flavor.

It tastes unique. Strange. Perfect.

If you’re passing through Switzerland, it’s one of those special foodie treats worth seeking out. You’ll find the Bruni stand open on Saturdays during the high season. Tell the fabulous cheese vendor I said hello.

We are currently spending the summer just outside Thun, Switzerland. If you have foodie recommendations for the region (particularly Bern, Thun, Fribourg, or the French part of Switzerland), please let me know!

In the meantime, here’s what I shared on the blog this May:

:: What to eat in France according to Chef Colagreco of Mirazur

:: Green market (Split, Croatia)

:: Mostar market

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