hors Contrôl(é)eThe RindLinkshors Contrôl(é)e Comté

I didn't quite get Comté. It is an undeniably good example of cheese, but I had difficulty believing that there were people truly empassioned by it. Of the French cheeses I've tasted, I find Comté to have the most commercial qualities, perhaps not surprising since it is the French AOC cheese with the greatest production. In particular,

it has something in common with the generic American "swiss," which is also not that surprising, considering that Franche-Comté, where this cheese is produced, is the French region with the longest border with Switzerland. This comparison is relative, however, as the flavor is still distinctively French, especially as it develops on your palate.

Rather than letting this cheese come to full room temperature, I prefer to eat it while still slightly cool. I found that at full room temperature the tanginess

and the sourness are more competitive than complimentary and the texture of the cheese doesn't really benefit at all from being at room temperature.

This is all I really had to say about this cheese. Then I melted it. Comté is quite possibly the best melting cheese I've encountered. It bubbles. It flows. Then it stays put and sticks, developing a nice brown crust

along the way. That tangy flavor really gives it an edge. Many other common melting cheeses can get quite greasy and lose their flavor, but not Comté. The flavor that can be just a bit too blunt otherwise, becomes just right when melted.

I found this Marcel Petite Comté at both Marion Street Cheese Market (12.31 for 1/2 lb) and Pastoral (15.96 for 1/2 lb). It is aged in the 19th-century military fort Saint Antoine, which, being on the French-Swiss border, never saw much action.

When I make quiche, I cut thin slices of cheese and completely cover the crust with it before pouring in the egg mixture. This keeps the crust from getting soggy while the quiche is baking and adds a nice complete layer of cheese in the quiche. Typically I use Emmentaler, but from now on, I'm using Comté.

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