31 October 2016

Comté & Bubbles, My New Favourite Combination

'I put cheese above everything. My boyfriend, my friends and definitely lactose intolerants'
Me, a few moons ago 

Several moons ago, on the night that I lifted my weight in cheese (see here), the lovely Megan from Got To Be Gourmet and, as importantly, Comté, invited me to a night of Comté and bubbles. The Comté was several different months old and the bubbles were sparkly. Even better than a night eating cheese and champagne, is a night spent eating cheese and champagne with some of your closest friends (aside from Megan), cue Persephone, Mike and Hannah. I should say, and it's probably quite clear from the cheese weightlifting (honestly I look awful, see here), that I was reasonably tipsy during the event and quite drunk by the end (see cheese weightlifting as reference). It's fair to say I had a great time, so did the rest of the gang, I can't say the cheese enjoyed itself but I can vouch for it's deliciousness. 

I love cheese. It's obvious, I probably mention in almost every other post I write, even if the post has no relevance to cheese. It's in my blood. I'm not going to go on about how Comté is my Swiss Grandmere's favourite cheese, and how her and my mum raised me on it, and we have it in our fondue every Christmas Eve and New Year, but in short Comté is my life. So when Megan invited me to the Comté and Bubbles event I was all aboard.

For reasons I'll most likely mention at the end of the post in my usual waffle, it's been quite a while since I wrote a post and almost as long since this event and as such my notes which clearly made a huge amount of sense at the time I have now forgotten. Who am I kidding, I made no notes, just drunken scrawls, for example, for pairing number five I describe it as 'fizzy' and 'I ate it too quickly' so let's all keep an open mind when it comes to this write up.

First off I was running late. This is important because it signifies that I was too late to eat dinner and also missed the canapés when I arrived which may somewhat explain my cheese lifting behaviour. The event was held at the fantastic and beautifully laid out (a true insta cheese fans dream, it has wallpaper with the print of blue cheese mouldy on's gorgeous, I want it in my house) cheesemonger Buchanans near Marble Arch. Seated with the gang, dream job idol, Patrick McGuigan, a wine and cheese critic (why is this not my job? Can I do this on the side?) talked to us about the history and production of Comté, and what makes it so special as a cheese. It's fair to say there is a lot that makes this cheese so special, cheese knockers (aka people who knock cheese to tell when it's ready), the particular region the cows are from, down to the grass they eat. I'd say this is a king of cheese, but the way it's made with everyone getting involved and coming together it's much more the people's cheese.

The first pairing was a 5-7 month Comté with La Gioiosa Prosecco 2015, as the name suggests this is a prosecco, what it doesn't suggest it's one of the best proseccos I've ever had. Available from Waitrose for £13.49 its a bloody bargain with a crisp finish and apple notes its beautiful. Paired with the cheese, the prosecco worked a charm complimenting the creamy texture of the young Comté with its grassy flavour leaving your tastebuds fresh.

Next up was the 12-14 month Comté with my favourite wine of the evening Cremant du Jura 2012 which is sparkling wine similar to champagne available from Aldi for the drumroll price of £7.49. £7.49. I can't get over it. It was delicious with hints of honey and sweetness. Thinking about it is just making me drool. The 12-14 month Comté was more to my taste than it's younger sister, I like a nutty   Comté, a flavour which really comes across with an older cheese. This was probably my favourite pairing of the night.

On to pairing number three, a 19 month Comté made in the Summer with the first champagne of the night, Les Pionniers Champagne from the Co-op priced at £16.99. If I'm truly honest, I prefer prosecco to champagne, I often find the flavour of champagne too harsh. It's like it chews up whatever you're eating with it and spits it out again, as such you need a tougher flavour against a champagne which is why I think this pairing worked really well. The Comté was really strong, in a good way, it had a nice nutty flavour which was increased compared to the younger cheeses and it shone against the champagne.

Rosé was my first foray into wine. As a teenager the fact it was pink and it's often overwhelmingly sweet flavour made me a big fan far too quickly, I probably haven't touched the stuff since then. So when pairing number 4 was announced as a 21 months Comté with Ridgeview Rosé de Noirs 2013 I was initially disappointed. However the flavours of this British wine completely changed my opinion, sweet with honey notes but also nutty from the toasty flavours it paired perfectly with the more mature Comté, which was frankly a dream so nutty and almost crispy in flavour. I would definitely recommend purchasing an older Comté, the flavour completely changes, and I'd say a little goes a long way unless you're me and then you eat it all before you have even decided what to do with it. At £40 a bottle this is definitely not the cheapest bottle, but it has definitely converted me to the pinkish hued wine variety.

The final pairing and my favourite Comté at a grand old age of 30 months was with Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois a champagne at the more expensive price of £60. This is the pairing I famously wrote is 'fizzy'. Well that it was the champagne was very fizzy and much like champagne is quite strong and harsh but against the 30 month old Comté it was sensational. Or perhaps together they were sensational because the cheese was outstanding. Hard almost crystallised sections of cheese between meltingly strong nutty goodness. I could eat this cheese everyday for the rest of my life. It was outstanding. If you ever get the chance to try some, take it with both hands and get rid of whoever you're with so you don't have to share it.

Pairings over, the champagne kept flowing until finally, post cheese lifting, we were the very last people in the shop...for which I can only apologise to Megan, Patrick and the lovely owner, Rhuaridh,  and staff at Buchanans (a really magnificent cheesemonger who hold a number of their own cheese and wine evenings). I had an absolutely fantastic time, thanks to Comté and Megan for inviting me, and I would truly recommend all the pairings and Comté we tried, particular the 19 month plus cheeses!

Thank you to Megan and Comté for inviting me to their Comté and bubbles event, although I ate copious amounts of cheese and drank way more wine than is proper on a weeknight, all opinions are my own. 

Now for my ramble. Ok, this is a long one, grab your bubbles, grab your Comté (other snacks are not allowed). I'm going to do a bad bagel/terrible toastie/crap crumpet (that one doesn't work) story, so there's going to be some good news sandwiching a whole lot of bad stuff to explain why I have been absent. Good news, we're buying a house. For reals, this is happening, our offers been accepted and we're in the process of exchanging. We're super excited about buying a real live house complete with a garden in the country, there's also been a lot of stress involved in this as you can imagine but there you go. Bad news, one of my friends almost died, at least we were told that was what was going to happen, I'm not going to go into a lot of detail because it's not mine to share but suffice to say we are overjoyed she didn't die and is still here with us (this is the second bit of good news). This has been 6 weeks since it first happened and it's only in the last 2 weeks that she's really come through. Suffice to say I haven't really known what to post here because it feels like posting like everything is fine would be a lie but now its better than we could have imagined. So that sums it up. If I've ignored your email or comment I'm sorry but I haven't been in a happy state to reply. Hopefully more blogging to follow! 


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