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Xmas with Comté

Image credit: Dan Moore

Besides travel, cheese is another of my great loves. Cheddar Cheese. Cheese and Crackers. Cheese on toast. It’s safe to say I love cheese. So when I was approached to attend a Comté Cheese and Christmas drinks pairing last week, I jumped at the chance.

About the location

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Image credit: Dan Moore

The event was held in the newly opened The Camden Grocer. You’ll find it hidden in a beautiful spot in Camden’s Stable Markets. Just head to the Amy Winehouse statue, past The Cheese Bar and you’re there! Inside you’ll find exposed brick walls, a selection of hot and cold food and drinks and store cupboard items ranging from crackers and crisps to coffees and soft drinks. If you’re looking for somewhere to purchase items from any Great Taste Award winners, this would be the place to go!

On another note, if you’re a visitor to London or have recently moved to the area, you must visit Camden. It’s a great spot for vintage shopping, street food and live music (I’m looking at you Electric Ballroom). It does get pretty busy of a weekend, so if you’re able, my top tip would be to visit in the week!

About the cheese

Image credit: Dan Moore

Comté for those of you who are not aware of this particular type of cheese, is an unpasteurised cheese made in Eastern France. It’s a protected cheese which must be made in the Jura region. I learned that a lot goes into the making of this particular type of cheese. Throughout the region you’ll find 2,700 small farms, 16 affineurs and 153 frutiéres involved in the making of Comté.

This cooperative of farmers and affineurs, with their varying methods and land conditions means that Comté doesn’t taste the same all the time. The taste can depend on the age of the cheese, the affineurs who are responsible for maturing the cheese and even on whether the unpasteurised milk used to make the cheese is milk from the winter or summer, or morning or afternoon (who knew).

What we also quickly came to learn was that ‘Comté is a booze cheese.’ This is what we were assured by food journalist and cheese writer (plus speaker for the evening) Patrick McGuigan at the start of the night. And he was not wrong!

About the night

Image credit: Dan Moore

For a cheese lover, I’ll admit, I am pretty unknowledgeable about cheese. The process on how it’s made, the different taste combinations you can create and the drinks you can pair them with. But this event was designed to show you just how versatile Comté Cheese is. You can pair it with Crémant, Port, Cider, Sherry, Gin and even Sake!

As we arrived we were greeted with a glass of Crémant and a 6-month old Comté. A breakfast cheese according to Patrick. Not too strong, quiet a bit creamy but a good cheese to start the night off with. I’m not usually one for fizzy wines, but if you’re a fan, the Crémant du Jura we were served was delicious. And can be found in Aldi for a bargain price of £8.29!

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Image credit: Dan Moore

Next up was the 12-month Comté paired with my favourite drink of the evening, the Saint Louis Dry Hopped Cider from Sanford Orchards. It wasn’t super fizzy, had a refreshing taste and went down far too easy! This is now a must for our Christmas celebrations!

We also tried another 12-month Comté paired this time with an Xeco Fino Sherry, which as a non-sherry drinker, I did not enjoy. But for those of you who do fancy this tipple, the Xeco Fino is one of the palest and driest sherries out there and must come from Spain!

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Image credit: Dan Moore

The Sake, Gin and Port were next and given that I did not like or did not try them (I’m a bit off a fussy drinker!) I’m not much use here. But these drinks were paired with two different 18-month old Comté cheeses and to finish off a whopping 30-month old Comté. The first 18-month old cheese we tried was my favourite cheese of the evening and a mouthful of this even made the Sake taste slightly better!

We left with lots of cheese knowledge, full bellies and a gift bag packed full of Comté! And I definitely left with a desire to learn more about cheese and to visit a few cheese farms during my travels!

Have you ever visited a cheese farm? Or taken part in a similar cheese tasting event? I’d love to hear from you! And if you’ve tried Comté before let me know what drink you paired it with!

*NB* This experience was part of a #XmaswithComte campaign, but please note all views of the cheese and the event are my own.

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