A Girolle® is a device that is used with a small or medium sized wheel of cheese to create servings of the cheese that consist of thin slices that are rolled slightly into shapes resembling rosettes or flowers. The device was first produced in Switzerland and is primarily intended for use with Tête de Moine cheese from the Jura region of Switzerland. When used properly, the Girolle® is basically scraped along the top of the cheese wheel, producing delicate cheese rosettes that make for a fairly stunning way to serve cheese. This paring of the cheese, rather than slicing, allows for higher surface area to be exposed to air and alters the texture of the cheese in a unique way.
The Girolle® was invented in 1982 by an engineer named Nicolas Crevoisier in an attempt to produce a machine that could serve and shape cheese in a more effective and attractive way. After several design attempts, he settled on the modern design which allows the user to create the rosettes but is not as clumsy or inelegant as some of his previous designs. Though several different models are available, the basic Girolle® consists of a wooden base and a metal rod that attaches to the center of the base.
A small wheel of cheese can be placed on the base, and the metal rod is pushed down through the cheese into the base, attaching into place. The metal rod has an attachment that consists of a specially designed blade with a round handle. A user then holds the handle and moves the blade around the surface of the cheese in a single circular motion, shaving off a fairly thin layer of the cheese and rolling it into fluted rosette shapes. Other Girolle® models can be made using plastic rather than metal, and may also include a cover for easy cheese storage or a more compact design for kitchens with less storage space.
Traditionally, the Girolle® was designed to be used with Tête de Moine cheese. Tête de Moine has been produced for hundreds of years and is a semi-hard cheese made from raw cow’s milk. The cheese has a smooth, creamy texture and tends to melt on the tongue when eaten. Since the cheese uses raw milk rather than pasteurized milk, it retains a unique taste and aroma. It is also protected by an Appellation d’origin Contrôlée from the European Union and can only be produced in the Jura region of Switzerland.