I have decided to put away my feelings of cheese inadequacy. Really, who better to give an unbiased impression of cheese than a complete newb? I work for no dairy board. I pay for my own cheese. My taste buds are not for hire-they are simple, humble, yet truthful. I will not like all of the 365 cheeses I sample. Some will be vile. Some utterly forgettable, still others will be pale impostors of truly great cheeses-my only mission is to categorize these into something that is meaningful to me, and then ultimately have the cheese party to end all cheese parties (October 31, 2012).
So with loins girded, and tongue firmly in cheek, we move forward to consider another Mountain Cheese (made in the Mountains, fat happy cows, fat happy milk). Todays cheese is Comte Juaraflore, a raw milk cow cheese from Jure France. My label states, “made from Montbilliard cattle, it takes 530 litres of milk (the daily production from 30 cows) to make one 45 kg wheel of Comte.” Holy Hannah! This stuff is basically the moonshine of milk.
Comte has the highly revered “AOC” accreditation, or Appellation d’origine contrôlée, which translates to, “controlled designation of origin.” This is the French version of the Italian DOP meaning this cheese has a geographical copyright. It can only be made in a certain area, and only using certain strict guidelines. Comte was one of the first French cheeses to receive AOC. One online source claims it is a, “source of pride for the French,” so there’s an awful lot riding on this little slice. Another cheese with some serious history, Comte has been around since the 12th century and was initially a communal affair, mountain shepherds pooling their milk after a long day to make these massive cheeses. Comte is generally aged for at least a year before serving, and up to 4 years. Wow. This cheese just gets more and more serious.
My slice of Comte sits here on my desk, minding its own business. It’s a small and discreet slice, firm with a buttery interior and hard brown rind. The rind wasn’t smeared with anything other than a little salt, so it’s a pure looking cheese. The smell is very mild, I have to bring it right up to my nose to actually smell anything, and it’ a nice, mild little cheesey smell.
Here goes…mmm, first hit is sweet! This cheese is sugary. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It must be all that concentrated milk. The texture is perfect, yielding, melty, the nicest texture yet. The taste is sweet and gentle. You can almost hear the cattle lowing as you eat it. It’s quite a fruity cheese and I imagine it would be fab along with some grapes or sliced apple. This is a perfect cheese for people looking for something different, but also something safe, like a preppy girl with a nose ring-edgy, but not really.