Der Scharfe Maxx. Man, I love this cheese. It’s as if the decided to put everything people love into one amazing wheel. It absolutely deserves to be my Purely Arbitrary Cheese Obsession of the Week.
It’s an Alpine-style cheese – grassy, oniony, and nutty like a well-aged Gruyere with a heavily washed rind like the really good Appenzellers. But, unlike Gruyere which uses partially skimmed milk, cream is added to the Scharfe Maxx for a richness that is shockingly satisfying and unique in this style cheese. One might think it would compare to the fattiness to a Raclette, but Scharfe Maxx is so much more complex and strong than the best Raclette, that I wouldn’t even suggest them to the same customer.
Scharfe Maxx is part of the new, underrated, wave of Swiss cheese that has exploded since the end of Swiss Government price supports. I’ve been trying to convince people about this for years now, but I think the best new cheeses in the world right now are coming from the United States and from Switzerland. Challerhocker, Jersey Blue, Scharfe Maxx, Hoch Ybrig, Dallenwiler, Selun, Senne Flada… All amazing in their own way.
When I arrived at work on Saturday, my co-workers were cutting Scharfe Maxx. I won’t lie, I could smell it from beyond the produce section. This is actually one of the few cheeses that co-workers complain about when we cut it. One night a vegan co-worker came up to us and said, “Hey, I think there’s a dead rat in the wall.”
“No, I think it’s this cheese,” I replied.
“Uh uh, that’s a dead rat. I’d know that smell anywhere.” I held up a piece of rind to her nose and she looked confused, then bewildered. She walked away shaking her head muttering, “You people are sick.”
For a while that inspired a new slogan for that cheese that we used on customers when giving them samples. “Smells like dead rat. Tastes like heaven.” *
Seriously though. This cheese is worth seeking out. You have probably never had another Swiss cheese like it.
*Apologies to Caroline Hostettler if you are reading this. Sometimes retailers need to be creative.