L'Etivaz is a hard Swiss cheese made from raw cow’s milk (very close to Gruyère surchoix's taste) called, like that, after the place it comes from. L'Etivaz is a hamlet in the south western Swiss Alps, just under the col des Mosses in the canton of Vaud. It has about 150 inhabitants.
In the 1930s a group of 76 Gruyere producing families felt that the government regulations were allowing cheesemakers to compromise the qualities that made good Gruyere so special. They pulled out of the government's Gruyere program, and "created" their own cheese - L'Etivaz - named for the village around which they all lived. The cooperative was founded in 1932, and the first cellars were built in 1934.
L'Etivaz is made essentially as Gruyere was 100 years ago. It may be made only when the cows are doing their summer grazing in Alpine pastures. It must be made in traditional copper cauldrons, and only over old-style, open wood fires. The resulting cheese is a bit creamier, less sharp than the Antique Gruyère, yet smooth and flavorful. L'Etivaz has a firm texture with a fruity, slightly nutty flavor, which varies depending on the soil of the different pastures. The color is yellow ivory and slightly sticky due to the saltiness. It is aged for 5 to 13 months before it is eaten.
Its form is a large wheel, 40 to 65 centimeters in diameter with a thickness of 10 centimeters and weighing from 20 to 50 kilograms. At one time the cheese used to show a large distribution of tiny holes, however the modern cheese rarely shows holes. One may see the occasional horizontal fissure under the rind. It is eaten at the end of a meal with raisins or fresh figs. Another excellent accompaniment is nuts and slices of pears.