Night Cheese and Gruyère Castles 

Cheesemongers don’t always work around the clock. But when they do, they build castles in the air.

Well, sort of. Into the air, if you will.

The two week stretch leading up to New Year’s is the busiest time of year in the cheese biz. To prepare for the mayhem, my co-monger Alicia and I worked a couple of graveyard shifts this weekend.

Beyond the incredible productivity that comes with working on some night cheese (we cut about 50 wheels of cheese over two nights), we rebuilt a fallen relic: the department’s counter-top Gruyère castle.

A lot like building a lego tower or designing a stone fortress, creating a Gruyère castle involves strategy. You need a plan, a strong foundation, good supports, and a mountain of cut cheese.

Gruyère, as we know, comes in 90-ish-pound wheels. Making a good-sized castle requires at least two full wheels of cheese, as well as a bit of time and concentration.

Delirious, exhausted, and dreaming of our beds, we had fun building the castle at about 4:00 a.m. this morning. Just a perk of the job, you might say.

I made a little video of our co-monger Danny cutting a wheel of Gruyère a few weeks back, when he and I built the original castle. Cutting Gruyère is not so different from cutting a 180-pound wheel of Emmentaler–except that it’s easier!

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