Cheese - French Comté...

OK I know I'm not very often here lately but you know the reason - Baby J :) But I still eat a lot and cook whenever I can - though usually this was passed on to my Hubby and he's good at this so I'm not complaining ;)
I eat a lot(!) of cheeses being it French, Italian, Irish, Polish, Dutch etc. so I decided to share with you my experience (or lack of it ;) ) in that field. I'm not an expert when it comes to cheeses. I like trying different types of it, like finding out the history, how it's made, from what kind of milk etc. so I hope my posts about all those things will be somehow helpful for you and will encourage you to try some as well :)
Oh, just so you know - all the cheeses I'll be posting about were "tried and tested", I'm afraid I will be judging with my own taste so if I'm not fond of some particular cheese please don't let it put if off trying it for yourself! It will be only my opinion and you really should make your own! :)

I couldn't start with anything else but probably the most famous of French hard cheeses - Comté.

The best way I can describe it is: medium soft texture (although it's a hard cheese), nice distinctive but not too offensive taste, you're left with a king of 'woody' after taste in your mouth (like it was a little smoked, even though it's not). You can definitely taste fruity/flowery overtones.
It's great on it's own - I ate it with a fresh baguette and fully bodied red wine (of course French one ;) )

And now some facts (some of which are highly surprising... like space for the cow!) The manufacture of Comté has been controlled by AOC regulations since it became one of the first cheeses to receive AOC recognition in 1958.
The AOC regulations state that:
- Only milk from Montbeliarde Cattle is permitted, and each must have at least a hectare of grazing.
- Fertilization is limited, and cows may only be fed fresh, natural feed, with no silage.
- The milk must be transported to the site of production immediately after milking.
- Renneting must be carried out within a stipulated time after milking, according to the storage temperature of the cheese.
- Only one heating of the milk may occur, and that must be during renneting. It may be heated to no more than 40˚C.
- Salt may only be applied directly to the surface of the cheese.
- A casein label containing the date of production must be attached to the side of the cheese, and maturing must continue for at least four months.
- No grated cheese may be sold under the Comté name.
And can you believe that each cheese takes up to 600 litres (160 US gal) of milk to produce!

If you're creating a cheese board Comté will be in the middle way reg. the consumption order (of course everything depends what other cheeses you'll have).

Very good info about this cheese is here:
- Comte
- Wikipedia

OK, that's it for the first post about cheeses. Hope you like it (please leave a comment so I know to continue with this cheese board or not ;) ) I also really hope that you'll try this fantastic cheese!