Photo by Janelle Jones.
There are certain cheeses out there that are so loved, so well-known, and just so freaking good that they have brand recognition along the lines of Band-Aid or Kleenex or Magnum. One of the all-time rock stars of the cheese world is known as Comté (pronounced con-tay like hayyy). There are so many different variations of this behemoth of a cheese (wheels weigh in around 80 pounds, like the size of Kim Kardashian's rear or all of Reggie Watts' fro) from ages, to flavor profiles, to texture, that this is the cheese that keeps on giving—also not unlike Kim K's rear.
Hailing from the lush land of the Franche-Comté in France, Comté basically supports an entire community of cheese folk. Back in the 12th century, the farmers of the land would chill out during the summer months in their little chalets along the mountainside of the Jura, milking their herds and pooling their liquid gold with neighboring, chalet-dwelling farmers, making a few wheels a day of what was to become known as Comté. The rather large wheels would need some time to age out, so they spent the summer months in the dark underbellies of these little huts, collecting time and developing complex flavor from the dank green grasses. The peace-lovin' bovine watchers would bring the wheels to market at the end of the season, and go back to their lives of cattle-rearing and light cheese-making.No joke, this cheese is a stoner's wet dream on the joy ride of flavor explosion.Fast forward to modern times, and the cheese making is now done by a tribe of dairymen called Fruitières. These guys live in the valley and collect their milk from neighboring farmers; their sole purpose in life is to make Comté. These are some thick, dreamy, milk-bred men and women with big hands and creamy skin—basically, some of the sexiest people out there. They spend their entire lives in steamy dairies, tending to the bubbling vats of snow-white milk.After a day or two of chillin' out, the young wheels are ferried over to the Forts. These forts are just that: huge old military bunkers that are carved into the side of the mountain. During France's many wars, they housed the artillery and weapons for armies. Now, they are the perfectly chilly aging houses for the coveted Comté.Comté ages out anywhere from six months to several years, and each wheel holds inside the hysterical flavor ride that runs from barely underripe banana to butterscotch pudding to Werthers Originals to Pineapple Laffy Taffy. No joke, this cheese is a stoner's wet dream on the joy ride of flavor explosion. Give her a taste—the first time is always free. Soon you'll find yourself hovering outside your local cheese shop, counting the minutes till they open and you can get your hands on that luscious lactation creation. And we will be there for you.