Comte Cheese – A Grate Addition to Any Meal – #BetterWithComte Masterclass
Last week I was invited to a Comte Cheese masterclass in London. I couldn’t say no (especially as it was at the #SaturdayKitchen studios!) plus I love Comte cheese having been introduced to it by fellow foodie Gary a few years back. Unfortunately I arrived too late for the studio bit but just in time to start the lessons. Firstly, let me fill you in briefly on the delicious, creamy, butteriness that is Comte.
Comte cheese has been around for over ten centuries. The mountainous region of Eastern France from Jura and Doubs in the Franche-Comté region, and Ain in the Rhones-Alpes region, is home to over 3,000 family farms dedicated to producing the highest quality of raw milk that is required to create Comté cheese. Using exclusively Montbéliarde and French Simmental breeds the cheese is known for its creamy, peppery flavour. It also has a melting point that allows itself to combine nicely into hot dishes and is a favourite of chefs the world over. With cows raised on a hectare each of wildflowers and grass the terroir lends itself to the unique flavours found in Comte cheese. Made in huge wheels that are turned by the local affineurs during the aging processs they can be matured anywhere between 4 and 24 months. The more mature the cheese the stronger, crumblier it will be and the nuttier it will smell.
Taking place at the award-winning Michel Roux Jnr Cookery School the facilities are fabulous. As well as the TV studio downstairs there are 12 work stations upstairs for the school and we were about to be led through our #BetterWithComte masterclass by Chef Millie. Knife in hand, mandolin ready to slice, quick salute with a very nice wine to Keith Floyd and I’m ready to crack on chef.
Our first recipe was a Watercress, Beetroot & Fennel salad with Comte, Basil & Walnut Crostini. Made with the 18 month old Comte the pesto was a real surprise. Replacing pinenuts with walnuts (I hate walnuts!) and Comte for Parmesan it was surprisingly delicious despite the walnuts (in fact they were quite nice) and took about a minute to make from start to finish. I ended up piling very healthy portions of the pesto onto our crostini as you can see. The roasted beetroots were a hit and the dressing was a simple olive oil/vinegar mix. Wine match – Grüner Veltliner, Rieden Selection, Stadt Krems
The main course was a great autumnal favourite of mine – Risotto made with butternut squash, sage and Comte. My partner-in-crime for the night @ConnieConsumes and I took turns stirring the risotto rice whilst the other took a brief slurp of the matching vino. Adding homemade chicken stock one ladle at a time we looked after that pan like it was one of our own.
Our resulting dish made it all worth the effort I think. With sage and 8-month-old Comte stirred through at the end and 24-months-old shaved on top it was a great recipe that I will surely use again. Wine match – Tierra Alta Sauvignon, Chile
Sitting in the Dining Room and having finished our second course we were pretty full but there was still dessert to come. Luckily though it had been made for us as it was getting late for a school night.
Comte, Banana & Vanilla Torte was to be our finale course. I could taste the cheese straight away and unfortunately was not a fan of the dish. For me it didn’t work, maybe if it was apple I could’ve gone there. Others around the table seemed to enjoy it so I’ll chalk that one up to personal taste. Wine match – Petit Védrines, Château Doisy Védrines, Sauternes, Bordeaux
By the time we finished our evening I had made some new friends, reacquainted with more familiar faces, learnt even more about Comte, and had an amazing time at the cookery school. If you would like to try some of the recipes using Comte cheese have a look at their official Comte Cheese UK website, there are plenty to inspire you!
Click here for recipes Comte Cheese Recipes