Cheese,  Comte,  France,  French,  Travel

Comte As You Are

As I type this, I am watching a “One Night Only” Duran Duran special on TV. Amazingly, they have aged quite well, Simon, admittedly wearing a rather flattering leather jacket, seems to move as well as he did in the 1980s and is still endearingly out of tune. The other members still look a bit of all right too, I’m unsure of how much of their performance and current looks are wind assisted, but this didn’t affect my nostalgic moment.

I knew all the words to the songs, except that weird later period around A View to a Kill, when they got all artsy and their all did “side projects” like that Power Station debacle.

But it got me thinking. Aging is a funny thing – humans are averse to it, but cheese, it seems to work.

Comte is kind of like a toddler in terms of cheese aging.

It’s aged for 12-18 months – sometimes as little as four months, sometimes as long as two years. It’s an unpasteurized cow’s milk, from Eastern France. It’s said to have originated in the 12th century, when shepherds would spend the summer months in their remote huts. The distance from towns of any size meant that any cheese they made would need to mature over a period of months. The milk was pooled between neighbouring shepherds, and the huge cheeses would be stored until being carried to market at the end of the season.

This particular Comte was aged 18 months and again purloined from my friends at Jones the Grocer. It’s surprisingly strong in flavor but a little sweet.Just like me.

Me second cheese for today was a gamble – I saw the word “sheep milk” and was hooked. But in terms of French cheese, this is an infant in provenance and aging. P’tit Basque, was first “introduced ” in 1997 and I was surprised to find for a sheep cheese, it’s surprisingly milk in spite of its pungent smell.

Made from pasteurized sheep milk, it is covered in a thin light brown rind that has a basket weave pattern. But it’s only aged for 90 days.

Also, unlike Comte with its romantic heritage, this was created by a French mega conglomerate, Lactalis which incidentally is the largest dairy producer in the world and if you have never heard of it, think again, it’s behind Danone, President and even Rachel’s Organic. It’s the McDonalds of cheese.

I have to say, this may have tainted my view and taste of this cheese, which was a little bit of a let down.

I guess it’s also proof that old is, most of the time, gold.

Comte to the left, P'tit Basque to the right
Comte to the left, P’tit Basque to the right

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