If 50% of France eats your cheese, you’re doing something right. Comté is a PDO cheese made in the Jura Mountains, and both the starter culture and the cows themselves are carefully selected and diligently local. A new series ofvideos from the Comté Cheese Association features David Robinson (of Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge) exploring Comté and all its subtleties. Whether you are a gourmet or a novice, this series will have you fluent in all things Comté within minutes.
The cheese experts at Formaggio Kitchen taste up to 40 wheels per day to find the best selection, and they know what they are looking for. In the video on tasting, Robinson lays out the framework for differentiating between different ages and seasonal variations, as well as how to learn your own preferences. In the cheese world, as in life, know thyself. After selecting from the center of the wheel (where the greatest diversity of flavor lies) and warming it in your hand, allow yourself to be taken by a bouquet of scents. These might include the particular flower the cow ate before it was milked, the precise odor of the cave where it was stored, the number of years the cheese matured. Upon tasting, give yourself time to experience the impact (which might be fruity and floral for younger cheeses, or reminiscent of coffee or chocolate for older), but don’t stop paying attention. Like wine, this cheese has a long finish.
Even if you buy your cheese pre-sliced, the video on cutting Comté is a must see, if only for the strangely satisfying shots of cheese being cut (not like that).
Each wheel weighs 80 pounds, which yields quite a bit of cheese. Wheels are halved, then quartered, then divided with an intricate method that needs to be observed to be understood. Transforming the wheel into sellable wedges is the tastiest bit of Tetris ever.
If you buy your Comté in larger supplies, you’ll need to pay attention to the specifics here. Regardless of whether you buy by the pound or the ounce, make sure you learn to store it properly too!
How to Cut Comté
Hot to Taste Comté
How to Wrap and Store Comté
Photo Credits: Comté Cheese Association