Comté was the first and only cheese we sold when we started the business over 15 years ago. Over that time, through countless trips to France, we have perfected our selection to find cheeses that we believe best encapsulate Comté.
Our Comté is produced by small fruitières across the Jura and Doubs mountains within the Franche-Comté region of Eastern France. Comté is a hard cows’ milk cheese with a salted rind. Milk used in the production of Comté comes from local Montbelliarde or French Simmental cows.
Our Comté is aged by Marcel Petite, at Fort St Antoine, until it reaches perfect maturity. Marcel Petite engages in a philosophy of affinage lent, or slow maturation, with the cheeses kept at a cool temperature, surrounded by the thick stone walls of the fort. Over time, this setting allows the cheeses to develop well-balanced sweet, nutty flavours and a smooth, creamy texture.
Each December we import an older cheese for Christmas. They are aged for longer at Marcel Petite by virtue of their balance of flavours and good structure. The extra maturity develops the texture and gives it a richness and depth. Intense flavours, roasted and sweet emerge from the ever-present nuttiness that characterise the best Comte cheese.When we select our cheeses, we are looking for length and depth of flavour; sweet caramelised onion, rich nuttiness balanced with subtle meaty and vegetal notes. The texture is creamy, dense and smooth. Some other suppliers prefer Comte that has aged for longer, but in our view, it is at this stage that it tastes at its best.
Comté is a perfect table cheese; served on fresh bread or crackers, accompanied by fruits, sweet pickles and walnuts. It can also be melted for fondue or used for a traditional cheese souffle.
Morbier is a semi-soft unpasteurised cows’ milk cheese produced by a small fruitière in the Jura mountains. Morbier is most recognisable for the thin layer of ash cut through the centre. Historically, leftover evening milk from Comte production would be made into curds and set into small moulds. The ash layer would be sprinkled over the curds to preserve the cheese overnight before morning milk was added the next day. Today the edible ash is simply used to maintain the traditional appearance of the cheese.
Our Morbier is matured by Marcel Petite for four to five months before we select cheeses that are rich, creamy and developing more tangy notes. The ivory coloured curd is soft and slightly elastic giving the cheese a moreish texture in the mouth with sweet milky flavours and a more pronounced citrusy and grassy finish.
Morbier pairs particularly well with full-bodied French wines and served on fresh sourdough bread. It is also a wonderful topping for tartiflette and matches well with onions and potatoes.
David and Jo Clarke have been making cheese on their Leicestershire family farm since 2005. They use unpasteurised milk from their own closed pedigree herd for their cheese-making. The cows are fed on the farm’s lush pastures and calving takes place all year round to keep the milk supply as consistent as possible.
Following in his parent’s footsteps, Will Clarke began making a new stilton recipe cheese in 2017 as part of the farm’s continued diversification. Sparkenhoe Blue is made using the same unpasteurised milk from his family’s herd and showcases the benefits of traditional farmhouse blue cheese that uses raw milk. Although made in within the geographical region of Stilton, as a raw milk cheese, Sparkenhoe Blue does not meet the specifications of the Stilton PDO which requires the use of pasteurised cows’ milk. However, the Clarke family found such favourable flavour results in using their own raw milk they decided not to pasteurise and make a very traditional Leicestershire blue cheese.
The cheese has a dense and crumbly texture with a fine blue veining. The cheeses are pierced (a process where oxygen is allowed to enter the cheese and activates the mould in the inoculated milk) later than in many blue cheeses, giving the cheese a distinctive sharpness of blue cheese without overpowering any other flavours. The cheese has a tangy apple acidity and mellow savoury finish.
We visit Sparkenhoe farm every few months to taste recent batches of Sparkenhoe Blue that have been carefully matured for three to four months.
Serve with Bath Oliver biscuits with walnuts and sweet pickles for a classic English table cheese. Or melt onto a beef steak or mushrooms to elevate a dinner.