…and more blogging. Hooray! It’s 2011! Did you miss us? Did you think we had gotten sucked into a void of cheese curds and customer service and got eaten alive by the boogeyman of Bedford Avenue?! Because we kind of did. And survived to tell the tale. But now that the mayhem of Holiday-geddon 2011 is over, we can resume our friendly and informative blog posts. Great. Super.
So while all you guys were opening presents and wearing bright and shiny Holiday sweaters and spilling egg nog all over yourself, I was here, contemplating cheese. What else? And I realized that I couldn’t stop thinking about one particular cheese we have in the shop. It’s like the QB of the cheese shop team…throwing that pig skin long and far and has perfect aim and is going to take the team to semi-finals and then is going to get a scholarship and go and play college ball…Ok. So maybe I was watching a lot of Friday Night Lights AND thinking about cheese (but seriously, I didn’t think NBC could actually create a show about football that sucked me in so fast…bravo NBC, bravo. And can we talk ’bout Tim Riggins for a second?!? Oh. My God.)
Anyways, I’m going to get to the point here. The cheese I was thinking about was none other than the Essex Street Cheese Marcel Petite 16 month Comte. Yeah, that’s right. The one. The only. The classic. The best. It’s like the perfect holiday cheese. You can use it to cook with, you can use it to snack, and you can cover it in mayo and cream cheese and serve it to your friends and they will LOVE you for it.
Usually, we have the Comte that is about a year old. Nutty, hints of shallots and berries, delicious, creamy, waxy texture…But this 16 month wheel….let me tell you. It went through puberty and blossomed into a beautiful swan. Made of out cheese. Cheese swans. That’s a good idea…I’m gonna have to write that one down in my journal to remember for later…
Anyways. COMTE. It’s French, it rules, you should get it. It’s one of the oldest cheeses out there. Hailing from the Easternmost region of France, the Franche-Comte (home of the often referenced Jura!), which is right near Switzerland, this mountain cheese is actually the most highly produced cheese in all of France. In your face brie.
On average, over 40,000 tons (which is like 88,000 pounds or like 27 and a half giraffes. Literally!) of Comte is made in a year. While some claim that Comte has been around since the glory days of Charlemagne (that’s the 9th century in case you are keeping track), the earliest references to a cheese named “Comte” were made in the 12th century, when groups of cows herders would pool their milk together and make big wheels of cheese they could sell throughout the year. (Remember this blog post? It’s all explained here. Full circle, peeps. Full Circle.) Comte is generally made until the end of the summer, when all wheels are put away to age. Cheese production is then switched to a special fall time cheese, the crown jewel of the cheese world, Vacherin Mont D’Or, which we forced upon many of you to make your Thanksgiving unique and special.
Made in “fruitières,” wheels are on average 80-110 pounds. BEASTS of the cheese world (they could easily smash a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano to smithereens…ok not really, but you get the idea), these wheels are delicious. An AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée or basically, “controlled designation of origin”) cheese, Comte is name protected and can’t be called Comte unless it is made in a certain way, in a certain place, from certain milk. So you know that all wheels of Comte are going to be top notch quality. Aged in the Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine, hundreds and hundreds of wheels live and are tended to by fromager extraordinaire Mr. Claude Querry. He spends all day looking at Comte, tasting Comte, banging on Comte like a drum, flipping Comte…heck he probably even talks to the Comte. And here he is in this video, impressively flipping wheels of Comte like they are tiddlywinks:
Personally, I think you would want to drink your Comte with big, dry white wines (like a good Sancerre), a lighter red (like a Beaujolais), or any kind of beer. Pair with some pickles, mustard, a good crusty cracker/loaf of bread, and some mustard, et voila. As the French would say: “Pic-nic!”
Or, if you consult cheese blog superstar Stephanie, she would use it as a variation on this Nigella Lawson recipe! For “cauliflower cheese.” NOM NOM NOM.
Now presenting the recipe in all its British vernacular glory!!!!
1 cauliflower cut into florets
1oz plain flour
6oz COMTE, grated
½ pint milk
6 rashers streaky bacon (back if the fat is a worry)
freshly ground white pepper
Par boil the cauliflower in boiling salted water for about 6-7 minutes. Drain and put in greased, oven proof serving dish.
In a saucepan melt the butter and add the flour. Stir together to make a paste and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly making sure that it is all combined together until it is to your preferred consistency.
Add the cheese and stir in until melted and unctuous. Remove from the heat. Cut the bacon into ½ strips and dry fry until crispy.
Throw the bacon into the cheese sauce and stir in together with the pepper.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for about ½ an hour or until bubbling and golden on top.
I would translate, but I think it’s endearing to keep it in its native tongue. Plus I gotta keep y’all on your toes.
Ok. Well there is my verbose blog post. Rhymes. I have lots of ideas about future blogs, so get your blogging pants on! It’s gonna be a wild ride…/ 4 Comments