Last week I had the fortune of traveling to Chamonix, a picturesque little town nestled underneath Mont Blanc in the French Alps, for a statistics conference. The views were amazing, but the food wasn't particularly intriguing. I guess a region known for fondue doesn't offer much for the lactose intolerant.
You do have to respect, however, a town with multiple charcuterie and cheese shops. While browsing one of the better stocked stores, I was amazed to find bottles of Chartreuse, both green and yellow, resting in the rafters above the cash register. Over the course of the week I went back twice, each time leaving with a new product from the Carthusian Monks.
I'm always impressed when I spot a nip of high quality liquor, but this gift set was a revelation. It was worth the bottle of V.E.P yellow alone, a product which I have yet to find anywhere on either side of the Atlantic. The 9th Centenary Liqueur commemorates 900 years of the Carthusian monastery, but isn't much more than a slightly sweeter take on the usual green formulation.
G enepi is everywhere in the Alps. Back in the day montaineers would gather flowers from the slopes and then macerate them in liquor to produce a sweet, herbal, and slightly bitter liqueur. Just about every store sells their own formulation and every restaurant features it on their menu. The Chartreuse offering was actually a bit disappointing; I preferred the versions offered in the local restaurants. Their stronger bitter swallow reminded me of a harmonious combination of yellow Chartreuse and a good amaro.
The bottle that started the string of purchases, however, was the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Sommeliers, or MOFS, special edition Chartreuse. Confused by the unfamiliar label, I spent the following evening googling around for more information. Information was sparse, especially when limited to mostly French websites and Google Translate, but what I could find was sufficiently intriguing to warrant a purchase.
Once back in the States, the first tastes did not disappoint. Somewhere between yellow and green Chartreuse, in color, flavor, and proof, the MOFS Chartreuse features a rich herbal flavor with an unctuous texture and just enough sweetness to round everything out. While yellow, and sometimes green, work wonderfully in cocktails, the MOFS is something to be sipped, slightly chilled, in the middle of the summer. A porch wouldn't be inappropriate.
Even though I've never been impressed with milk chocolate, I couldn't resist one last Chartreuse purchase.