Cooking with Comté

Lunch, Recipes
on November 1, 2008
Comte Cheese

As the wife of a CEO, French-born Françoise Thormann has had her share of change—primarily in residences. She and her husband have lived around the world, most recently in Japan, before moving to Nashville, Tenn. But one thing that doesn’t change is her love of cheese, specifically Comté (kawn-TAY) cheese.

“Taste this Comté. It is the best,” she says as she carves a piece.

Dense yet creamy, this artisan gruyère deserves praise. Crafted from the raw milk of the Montbeliard cows of the Jura Massif, a series of parallel mountain ranges running along the French-Swiss frontier, Comté is made in a 1,000-year-old tradition. Each cow is provided two acres of lush grasses and meadow flowers for grazing. Milk is brought to the local cheese-making cooperative, the fruitière, daily for immediate production. And wheels of Comté are carefully aged—for four months minimum, but many up to two years. Comté, which means “county” in French, has to be made in a certain region to be called Comté. Each cheese is made according to the traditions and guidelines of the region. Fortunately for Françoise—and us—Comté is now available in markets across the United States, even Costco.

Françoise uses Comté cheese in gougères (petite cheese puffs), soufflés and onion tarts. “There are many good recipes that use only kitchen staples,” she adds. I’d never considered making a soufflé, but Françoise gave me inspiration—and her recipe. “It is simple. My teenage daughter makes it,” she says. This French woman knows. Easy to prepare, my soufflé was showy and worth the wait. I spooned up a cloud, and the creamy, nutlike goodness of Comté dissolved on my tongue.

By Nancy Vienneau, a foodwriter in Nashville, Tenn.

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