Comte cheese may not be a household word in the United States, but every Frenchman and woman is intimately familiar with this semi-hard cheese from the Franche-Comté region in Eastern France. Comté holds the coveted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in the European Union, which means that only farms, dairies, and aging cellars located in the Jura Mountains are allowed to use the brand name, and then only if they follow a stringent set of procedures.
No two samples of Comte cheese taste exactly the same, because it is produced from milk given by cows who feed on different grasses in the winter and summer, farms that exist at different altitudes in the Jura Mountains, and slight differences in aging processes. But there is a certain “something” that defines a Comte cheese. It always has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor, though it can have overtones ranging from leather to roasted onions to mushrooms and more. I had the opportunity to learn about the making of this distinctly delicious cheese during a press trip sponsored by the Comté Cheese Association. I wandered among herds of cows at farms, watched milk being turned into curd at fruitières (dairies), and descended deep into the earth to witness the aging process at affineurs. See what the process entails for yourself in this video.
Author’s note: I was a guest of the Comté Cheese Association during travels through the Franche-Comté region in France. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.