Le Pierrefeu (The Flintstone) is located in the Bernese Jura, up from the small village of Corébert towards the top of the Chasseral mountain. This region is known for relatively low altitude alps – Le Pierrefeu is located on 3,750 feet – and thus accordingly long alpine seasons. The Oppligers usually dislocate from their farm in Courtelary just before the middle of May and don’t return until the end of October.
Alex Oppliger, just like his father used to do, crafts Gruyère AOP Alpages. He also produces some wheels of Alpkaese at the beginning of the season – 10 to 13 pound wheels that age much faster than the massive Gruyères – but these mainly are for self consumption and to be served at the Métairie, as mountain and alp restaurants are called in the western part of Switzerland. Oppligers Gruyères AOP Alpages are known to be high end, complex and pure in flavors.
The Oppligers go to Le Pierrefeu with their three kids (ages 6 – 10), 46 cows, Alex’s dad, plus two helpers. While the two men of the family tend to the animals and cheese making, mother Caroline watches the kids and runs the restaurant. She also does cheese deliveries to private customers and restaurants with her little 4×4 once a week. One helper works in the kitchen, the other one runs the floor. Which, especially when the weather is nice, means much hard work: The Métrairie can sit 60 guests, and because amongst insiders it is famous not only for great Gruyères but also for cured meats, local specialties and butcher platters. It often is booked out.