Comté is da bomb!
Recently Alyssa and I have been practicing our cheese consumption in anticipation of our inevitable travel to France within the next month, Considering the average consumption of cheese is about 52.2 LBs of cheese per person per year then we had a lot of practicing, I know, I know it’s a tough life…….
Here is the set up, around 4p.m or so, I remove the recently purchased cheeses (that’s right plural), from the fridge to temper for an hour or so, this is an important step that quite a few people skip, forget or simply don’t know about. Bringing it to room temperature allows for maximum flavor and texture on your palate and it makes the ripe and runny cheeses extra runny and aromatic (I was going to say stinky which in my opinion is a compliment as far as cheese goes).
I then saw or tear apart a crusty baguette and open the days selection of flavor enhancers, these can include Kalamata olives, Cornichons (fancy name for little French Gherkins), a chutney or two….Alyssa is on a spiced apple chutney kick right now which I must admit is rather superb with some extra mature cheddar, and if we are really feeling exotic or greedy a little hummus added to the mix makes for a tasty and complete spread. As far as the cheese selection goes, we are spoilt for choice here as there are over 700 official cheeses from England alone, add to that the well selected French, Spanish and Italian cheeses and your head starts to spin, there has been many an hour spent in the cheese Isle with myself trying to convince Alyssa that a red Leicester, whilst good, lacks a certain punch in the mouth when it comes to strength and a Extra mature farmhouse cheddar will aptly suffice (usually I am pretty convincing but sometimes we just get both, easier, diplomatic and simply more cheese to consume…win win).
The cheese board itself will usually consist of about 5 Cheeses and as a rule (and this applies to you all), it is best made up of a selection of textures, strengths, milk type and country, for example a good board is A ripe Camembert (soft and mild, oh and French!), a nice blue which of course vary quite a lot in strength from mild and tangy to pucker up, eye watering pungent….A good all rounder is a classic Stilton. Then a sharp, medium/hard such as extra mature Cheddar which will be tasty for everyone and not too intimidating for the “non cheese” eater in your group ( you know there is always one and they probably want it on a sick with a canned pineapple chunk…the door is that way). Next if you dare I would suggest a goats cheese and believe it or not there is more out there than just chèvre which just means goat anyway. There are hard varieties as well as soft so explore a little some of the best goats cheese comes from Spain and finally I get to the point of this story….Comté!!
This cheese really inspired me to write this because I want you to go out and buy a piece, sit down, let it temper and let that cheese just take over your mouth, it is a nutty, creamy, tangy, smooth explosion. It has enough character for the cheese lover and not scary enough to scare that person who we mentioned before (you know who you are…pineapple….please?), it is similar to Swiss cheese but with that little extra the French do so well. It melts like Swiss too so you can use it in fondue, grilled cheese (America), cheese on toast (fellow Brits) or just switch of the lights, shut the door and Eat the stuff!
If you do get some , PLEASE give me your feedback, I would love to know what you think.
Viva la France, et Fromage!!!!!