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COMTE, TOMME DE SAVOIE, PREFERE DE NOS MONTAGNES: CHEESE PLATE OF THE MONTH FEBRUARY 2014

**I am trying a slightly different approach for this month. French alpine cheese seems like much too large a category for one month, so I have chosen 3 cheeses for an “Alpine cheese plate”.**

Baby its cold outside! We may not be skiing in the French Alps, but we can at least snack après ski (or whatever winter activity you need to warm up from) as if we were.

COMTE: A firm, raw cow’s milk cheese made in the Jura Mountain region of France. Rich, complex flavor that varies according to producer. The most popular cheese in France.
In addition to eating out of hand, Comte is a great cooking cheese – classic uses include topping French onion soup & melting in fondue.

http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/Comte.asp

TOMME DE SAVOIE: A semi-soft, raw cow’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alps. Flavors are clean, milky and lactic, with slight citrus and mushroom notes overlaid with a pleasingly musty cellar aroma. This cheese originated as a byproduct of other traditional aged cheeses such as Beaufort.

http://www.murrayscheese.com/tomme-de...

PREFERE DE NOS MONTAGNES: A washed rind, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Jura Mountains. This is a lightly washed rind cheese with a creamy texture, nutty and floral aromas and a clean milky flavor. Prefere is considered one of the best substitutes for Reblochon, which we cannot get in the US. I love this cheese and am excited to try it again!

http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/...

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  1. Excellent pairing with the winter Olympics, EmB!
    I happen to enjoy all three and have two (Comte & Montagnes in the frig).

    Comte is my favorite fondue cheese and we fondue fairly often.

    Montagnes I use in place of butter for scrambled eggs and egg bakes.

    Thanks for the Feb adventure!

    1 Reply
    1. re: HillJ

      Great idea to use the montagnes with eggs - I have never gotten beyond just eating it alone. I keep comte in the fridge too - it is so versatile and makes a great grilled cheese!

    2. Of the three, Comtè is the best. When it's not available, Jasper Hill's Alpha Tolman is a fairly good substitute.

      Prefere d.n.Montagnes is one of my wife's favorites. I'll have to try the suggestion to use it with eggs.

      The one time I tried Tomme d.Savoie it was ok, just not very exciting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DonShirer

        I really enjoy the Alpha Tolman. I think perhaps a smidge more than Comte.

      2. The only time I've experienced Tomme De Savoie was when the host wrapped the round in pastry and served it with strawberry jam along with a sweet wine. With so much going on, I really couldn't identify the cheese flavor alone. So this is the cheese I need to revisit on its own merit this month. Off to source..

        1. It should be noted that Comte, like Mimolette, and many others is sold at a variety of ages.
          Comte Jeune is about 7 months old and while a lot better is a standard child's cheese.
          You can then get them in 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60 month ages. Monsieur Antony from Vieux-Ferrette in Alsace right near the Swiss border has both a 48 and if you are lucky a 60 month that is in my very top tier of cheese from France.
          Marcel Petite is the one exporter who sends 30 and 36 month to the States and once tried, very tough to go back to the normal cooperative stuff. Pricey but super.

          Sorry to disagree but both Farto de Thones and your Prefere, the faux reblochons, a IMVHO sad imitations of the reblochon and miss both the farmstead smell and the nutty paste. l find them insipid and boring thus a waste of calories. l get my reblochon in Canada or France and skip its imitators when in the States.

          Have never been a T d Savoie fan as the wet cardboard nose is not what l want to smell, just my preference.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Thanks for the education. You take baby steps and then you consult with Delucacheesemonger..you've made a number of recommendations that will help the month along. Thank you.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Thank you for the Comte round up! My local cheese shop just got in a wheel of Marcel Petite 24 month. Will be heading over there this week to pick some up and will be on the lookout for the more aged versions. I did a very quick search online - Murray's is out of both of its aged Comtes and igourmet doesn't seem to carry anything other than the youngest version. Maybe when my 6 month old is ready for cheese, she'll get some comte. Hopefully it will spoil her for those gross cheese sticks I see other kids eating. :)

              Do you think your disdain for the Prefere is because it is billed as a reblochon substitute and it doesn't live up to your love of that cheese? I have never had true reblochon so obviously have nothing to compare the imitations to. Is there another cheese available here in the states that you think is a good stand in for reblochon or should we just give up and wait until the laws change?

              1. re: EmBrooks

                Even though pasteurized or thermalyzed, Muenster is awesome, not badly priced and makes a kickass tartiflette as well.
                The funk persists, always buy when very squshy, if firm, it will never get squshy and thus be feh.
                But l do not ever eat rich cheese that is not VERY flavorful.
                Thus even things like perfect La Tur or Robiola does not tickle my fancy, and believe me when l say l like my fancy tickled.

                BTW the laws will not change, only get worse. The problem is not on the US side which are bad enough. The Belgians controlling the EU prohibit real Reblochon as well as zillions of other products to be sold in most of Europe, by that l mean over country borders in the EU.

                1. re: EmBrooks

                  Reblochon is an amazing experience. I experienced my first one 22 years ago right about now, and can still taste it in my memory.

                2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Thanks for the information. It might explain my variable experience with Comte. I am not a big fan of Gruyere but the cheesemonger suggested Comte as an alternative and I loved it. I bought it again a few weeks later and hated it. I'll have to seek out some of various ages this month to try.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I have Marcel Petit Comte in the fridge now. :D

                    1. re: EmBrooks

                      Doesn't that photo make you want to dive right in!

                        1. re: HillJ

                          I just made a big batch of salami chips to serve with whole grain mustard, french bread and Saint-Marcellin.
                          http://www.murrayscheese.com/st-marce...

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I have never had a St. Marcellin in US that I thought was worth the time or money. More's the pity. I think they don't travel at all well. They are so often spoiled that I don't try them any more. It's just too disappointing to get that ammonia smell when you open the package.

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              We enjoyed every morsel. Sorry to hear you've not encountered a worthwhile St. Marcellin.

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                Because St Marcellin available in US is pasteurized and what you've had in France is not. Huge difference in taste.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Good to know. I didn't.

                                  But this is right here a good example of why reading differing experiences from fellow CH's helps frame buying considerations. Cheese after cheese, I'm learning from CH's about price, flavors, where folks are buying their cheese and of course how they're enjoying it.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    I know the stuff sold here is pasteurized. My first experience(s) with St. Marcellin were the apex -- from Mme. Renee Richard. I know I'm spoiled. ;)

                          2. This week I tried a 15 month Les Trois Comte I purchased at whole foods. I really enjoyed it. It had a slight yeasty aroma. The cheese reminded my slightly of an aged Gouda except the texture was completely smooth and velvety. In my notes I wrote: bacony, milky, velvety. Very slight but perceptible sharpness that enhanced the mouthfeel. It had a zesty deep rich cheese flavor that lingered in my mouth. I would buy this cheese again, but now I am very curious about and will keep an eye out for the longer aged ones.

                             
                            1. I picked up some Comte (Marcel Petite, 24 month; $26/lb) this week. I was in a rush at the cheese store, so I didn't taste in house, but the cheesemonger was very excited when I requested comte. She said it was the best comte they have ever had and currently the store favorite. I came home prepared to be disappointed (what can live up to that hype?!). Well, it is hands down the best hard cheese I have ever had. Definitely not going to be melting this into anything. I really wish I had the cheese vocabulary to describe it. It is seriously delicious and I am now on the hunt for 30 & 36 month comte.

                              1. mmmmmmmmm

                                I always have Comte in the fridge. It is my very favorite cheese. And when I'm in France, I LOVE to bring back 2 or 3-year old Comte from Laurent Dubois in Paris.

                                It makes the BEST Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, imho.

                                OMG, just saw the suggestion to use Montagnes instead of butter for scrambled eggs! Do you like truffles with that? ;)

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  With or without truffles. For me, the use of truffle is overdone. Your choice :)

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Just had the extra grand cru 36 month aged Marcel Petit comte from Formaggio's - a ridiculous pricey indulgence worth every penny. Truly a food of the god cheese. But not one I will use to cook with: a less expensive comte, along with fontina and braised leeks is going into the baked polenta which I need to fortify me against another snowstorm today.

                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                      http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/...

                                      I hope you don't mind if I add a photo link here. Helps me bookmark the thread for shopping at some point. Sounds wonderful, teez.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        if I was technically savvy I would have thought of that myself. Thanks HillJ. We're so fortunate to have Formaggio's here.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          wow! I didn't realize they got the 36-month. Hope there's some left when I'm in Boston end of next month...

                                        2. re: teezeetoo

                                          I just tried the Marcel Petit Comte from the cheeseboard in Berkeley CA. They told me that they are no longer categorizing their Comtes by age because they have gotten too many mediocre long aged ones. They are now categorizing them by how strong they are. The Marcel Petit was labeled as "elegant aged Comte". Anyway it's a stunning cheese. From my notes: deep golden color. Strong milky flavor. Deep umami richness. Had fine crystals similar to Gouda. Reminded me a little bit of the Greek cheese kasseri but not as salty. Slightly sweet. Flavor lingers in your mouth. Excellent cheese!