Monger’s Chat – Comté aka “The Perfect Cheese”

Hello!

We’ve got a group of hungry cheesemongers gathered up to discuss all things Comté. Prepare to learn all matter of factoids, take in pairing suggestions, and even watch this fearless foursome dream up a brand new tuna melt! Shall we dive right in? First some introductions…

Emilio – 3rd generation Di Bruno, VP of Culinary Pioneering, and guy who enjoys food.

Hunter – 21-year veteran of Di Bruno Bros. Cheese and Charcuterie Category Manager.

Amanda – Certified Cheese Professional and reliably a pleasure to deal with.

Rocco – Repping South Philly, a CCP who is all smiles and all business.

 

Hunter

I’ve heard several experts refer to Comté  as “The Perfect Cheese.”  It’s hard to argue that point.  In my mind, cheese nerds appreciate it, and it’s still very appealing to people dipping their toe in the specialty cheese pool.

What makes Comté so appealing to you?

Amanda

It’s just so versatile. Great on a board, the perfect melter- so easy to like!

Rocco 

I think I am in the “Perfect Cheese” camp.  It is a super snack-able cheese, there is nothing I would rather have under a cheese dome for easy access.  It is also the most versatile cheese for cooking that I can think of.

Emilio

it seems like there are only a handful of this type of cheese today that folks enjoy regularly, they are the standard humble styles of cheeses.

Hunter

I’m glad you both touched on versatility.  I agree that it works well in so many applications.  I often hear the phrase “buttered toast” use to describe the flavor profile, and what doesn’t taste good on toast?

Emilio

This cheese in particular melts /eats well and is never out of style

Rocco 

Just the size and shape of the average cut of Comté in France is so epic.  It’s over a foot long!

Amanda

I’m so happy that we are featuring Comté  as it starts to warm up for grilling season.

Hunter

Me too.  I used it to make grilled cheese for my kids yesterday and 2 out of 3 liked it!

That’s an incredible result for me.

Amanda

#dadwin

Hunter

@Rocco good point, but does size really matter?

Emilio

One great pairing idea that come to mind is the Cabernet Onion jam from Tishbi, giving you that french onion soup vibe.

Hunter

That’s an Amanda original, giving credit where it’s due

I reference that one all the time.

Amanda

@Emilio have you tried it with the basque cherry confit that we are featuring this month?

Rocco 

I think so @Hunter I love the idea of having a solid 12 inches of space before my knuckles are on the grater/shredder

Emilio

yes, give her lots of cred for that one. it is a very pleasing sample at the stores

you could have added that to your kids grilled cheese @Hunter (edited)

Hunter

Baby steps

#cookingforkids

Amanda

You’ve all been to Fort Lucotte, right?

Hunter

I have!

It’s basically cheese Mecca

Amanda

I’ve seen pictures- what’s it like in person?

Emilio

Not yet, was planning on it this year but i pushed to 2019. I need to go.

Hunter

So fun fact: the fort was built during the Franco-Prussian war, but was a complete failure

Emilio

 

Rocco 

I have never been more overwhelmed by smell than when I stepped into the fort

Hunter

The French thought it would be a good idea to hide thousands of soldiers underground, then surprise the Prussians as the strolled through the forests.  Unfortunately, the Prussians found the entrance, which was also the only exit.

Emilio

#warfail

Hunter

They barricaded it, forcing the French to surrender, and the French decided to use the space for something they’re actually good at: affinage

There are usually in the area of 100,000 wheels ageing at any given time

And they’re crammed into every nook and cranny.  Some rooms, formerly sleeping quarters, have 8-12 wheels in them.

Amanda

That’s a lot of Comté …

Hunter

Most of the cheeses are in the main room, which looks like this

 

Amanda

Do they use a specific type of wood to age the wheels on?

Emilio

Well i love this cheese, and although we had a great British promotion going on this weekend, i also purchased a half kilo of Comté…

Which my wife and i had for a snack last evening

Hunter

What did you drink with that, Emilio?

Emilio

We had the Sicilian Grillo from Poggio Anima and also served it with the Rabbit & pork cheek pate from Smoking Goose with cornichon and the french mustard. You know the one.

Hunter

That sounds awesome!  That’s my favorite pate.


Emilio

The grainy one we sell but i have the small jar of the cognac mustard

Amanda

@Emilio I LOVE that wine. Bought a bottle home from the Rittenhouse store this weekend too!

Emilio

It worked well. Lots of body and kept the cheese savory.

Rocco 

Marcel Petit completely changed the way that Comté  was aged. People thought he was crazy going for quality over quantity.

He took a cheese that was widely considered to be a commodity cheese at the time and put a premium on quality of milk used and careful aging.

I love the classic Comté  with butter and cornichon on a baguette

Emilio

I like to cut it into batons like match sticks

Hunter

then wrap those match sticks in Lady Edison Country Ham and top with a Basque Cherry

Emilio

Thats a good one @Rocco i like the butter from LeMeunier

Amanda

@Hunter that was my favorite bite during our staff training last month

Emilio

Now you’re making me hungry again!

Rocco 

I haven’t had that Ham yet.  I am excited for new ham!

Hunter

Get it while it lasts, @Rocco we only got 8 legs

Emilio

That ham is awesome. i also took home a bit of that this weekend. might use your pairing tonight @Hunter

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Comté  is melted on a burger and i think that Balthazar in NYC does it very well.

Hunter

Who can identify something in the make process that differentiates Comté  from Gruyere, its Swiss cousin?

Amanda

They use a different breed of cattle

Hunter

@Amanda half credit…which breed?

Emilio

Montbeliard cows

Hunter

@Emilio full credit

Emilio

May have spelled that wrong

Hunter

There’s an e on the end, but let’s say it was autocorrect

Amanda

In Switzerland they use Holsteins for gruyere

They call them Fribourgeois

Rocco 

Here are the triumphant cuts of Comté from the shop at the Fruitiere

 

Emilio

hahaha

that is a picture of beauty!

Hunter

there’s also a difference in how salt is applied.  Gruyere is dipped in brine, while Comté  is hand-rubbed in salt

Emilio

I start to salivate just looking at it! that’s what i mean……

Amanda

Have you guys tasted the Fleur lately?

I typically prefer the older Comté  Lucotte but the Fleur’s been really, really tasty

Hunter

On Friday. Quite tasty.  Maybe more flavor per price than any cheese we have at the moment, for only $19.99lb.

Emilio

i did on sat. it is nicely acidic or young tasting which i think is great for cooking

Hunter

Because the Fleur is about 6 months younger than the Fort Lucotte, you can usually see the seasonal variation in the color of the paste.  One is from summer milk, which is grass-fed and therefore more yellow.  The other is winter milk, silage-fed, and more bone-white.

Rocco 

I have to say the Fleur is a slightly better melter than the other ages and you don’t miss the complexity as much when its gooey and warm.

Hunter

@Rocco I agree

Emilio

I like the fleur with a frissee salad just dressed in an emulsified dressing of lemon, mustard, and olive oil with a poached egg. It is awesome!

Amanda

@Emilio you making us this for lunch?

Emilio

I know, now i’m making myself hungry

Rocco 

Fleur is most often a pizza cheese in our house.  Usually with bacon and thinly sliced raw onions,

Emilio

The french Pommery mustard is what i was talking about

that’s a good call

Hunter

We’re going to feature it on scallops for the Legends Dinner this year

Going to be epic.

Emilio

It sucks that i am going to miss it this year.

Amanda

Whoa. That sounds great.

Hunter

Whoever made the rule that you can’t pair cheese with seafood was not very intelligent.

Rocco 

What’s on the scallops? The mustard or the fleur…or both?

Hunter

the Fleur

Emilio

I love cheese and seafood especially scallops

Hunter

We should come up with an elevated tuna melt

Emilio

ohhhhh

Rocco 

I love cheese melted on pretty much anything.

Hunter

Mighty Bread Sourdough, Ventresca tuna, Comté  Fleur, Piment Espelette

Emilio

That could be a great addition to the sandwich list

Amanda

Ortiz tuna!

Emilio

keep going…….

Hunter

Yuzu olive oil

Rocco 

I’m in.

Emilio

Add some chopped cornichon… i love the brininess

Amanda

Crisp and Co pickles would be great too

Rocco 

I like giardinera chopped up in tuna.

Emilio

Maybe a little crumbled hard boiled egg

Hunter

Or soft boiled, served open face

Moderator:

How does Comté  fit into everyday French cuisine (if it does)?

or French cuisine, generally

Hunter

Comté  is actually the most-consumed cheese in France. It is their go-to table cheese, as we’ve identified it works in many classic recipes, too

Emilio

We know that, we need to keep educating the folks who come into DB

Hunter

I tell everyone.  “Nobody knows cheese better than the French, and they eat more of this than anything?  What more do you need to know?”

Emilio

What did i read about Comté ? it takes something like 160 gals of milk to make one 80lb wheel?

Hunter

I’m not sure…I wasn’t there when you read it.

Amanda

It takes a lot of milk and a lot of love to make that cheese

Hunter

That doesn’t sound too far off, though

Amanda

Especially in the summer

Rocco 

 

Those 2 vats are only 6 wheels of cheese!

Emilio

How many fruitieres are left to help with this production?

Amanda

wow.

Emilio

anyone? anyone? buehler? buehler?

Hunter

I think there are 175

Emilio

thanks

Moderator:

What would trigger you to suggest Comté  to a DB customer at the counter?

Rocco 

Anyone that is ever looking to melt anything.

Hunter

A customer is looking to pair one cheese with several wines and/or beers

Emilio

We sell it because it i a very humble and extremely versatile cheese. And it has a range of flavor that changes from wheel to wheel.

Amanda

I think it’s a huge crowd pleaser.

Emilio

It’s simple to understand and tastes great!

Amanda

Nuanced enough for folks who know specialty cheese to enjoy and a great “gateway” cheese for those unfamiliar

Rocco 

I think it has such a familiar makeup of flavors.

Emilio

It goes well with nuts, jams, hams (ham biscuits), other cheeses

Hunter

Honeys, mustards, hot sauces

Rocco 

Nuts, brown butter, carmelized onions…

Emilio

It can last for time in your fridge if you can’t get back to the store regularly.

Rocco

Don’t forget the Fondue!

Hunter

Mac and Cheese!

Emilio

It travels well in a back pack, car, camper….that did it, now i gotta eat something.

Amanda

Omelettes!

Rocco 

Souffle

Hunter

Comté  is so versatile, but is there anything you would be sure NOT to pair it with?

Emilio

That’s a tough question

Hunter

I don’t particularly enjoy it with very hoppy beers

Amanda

I wouldn’t pair it with a very bold wine or beer, you don’t want to overpower it

Hunter

It’s great with stouts, lambics, sours and pilsners, though.

Rocco 

But you could pair aged Comté  with something bold

Amanda

@Rocco yes! absolutely.

Hunter

Everyone check back in November when Comté Sagesse is realeased

The single best day of the year.

It’s a two-year aged version that is just everything you could ever want

Amanda

I look forward to it every year

Hunter

Only about 1-2% of all Comté  is aged that long, and it is typically released only in November.

Emilio

It comes in and goes out very quickly

Rocco

The wheels are gone before you know it.

Hunter

Sagesse, Black Betty, Vacherin Mont d’Or, Rush Creek Reserve, White Truffles…you can’t beat November

Rocco

The crunchy crystals that everyone loves in Parm and Gouda in Comté !

Hunter

…..aaaand scene.

 

 

 

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