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When our Test Kitchen Chef Josh Cohen raved about a quiet, simple dinner of cheese, wine, and cured meats he had at the Manhattan restaurant Rebelle, my ears immediately perked up. (It's no secret that cheese obsession is rampant around these parts.)
Rebelle, located on the Bowery amid lighting stores and double-parked trucks, is a cool refuge of French bistro dishes updated with market ingredients that lend them a bit of forward-thinking funk. It's French food that's letting its freak flag fly, if just barely, like in the roast duck with pistachios and pickled red onions, cured fluke with brown butter, or radishes with buckwheat.
But in one meant-for-sharing dish from the menu's "For the Table" section, the one that Josh mentioned, there is simplicity not found anywhere else on the menu: just Comté and French miche bread, a pivot on the traditional cheeseboard or cheese course. It's something that chef Daniel Eddy has offered since Rebelle's opening. "I wanted to serve a large cheese plate that was visually different from other restaurants in NYC. Comté also happens to be one of my favorite cheese," he explains.
Daniel creates long, slender shavings by using a cheese peeler, and lets the cheese fall to the plate in ribbon form until it's the size of a small mountain.
The Comté that Rebelle serves arrives in New York after being aged for 18 months in Jura Mountain region of France. Cheesemonger Anne Saxelby, of Saxelby Cheese, imports it from Herve Mons, a cheese affineur (someone who ages cheese) in France, with whom she has a longstanding relationship. Daniel adds that he chose to serve it with miche because the bread's nuttiness mirrors the same flavor in the cheese.
And the way Daniel serve the cheese, described above, is exceptionally easy to recreate at home—and fit for just about any occasion, served before or after dinner for many guests, or split between two people with a spread of charcuterie, bread, and butter. "The Comté fits into the menu as a starter, a snack, in between the mains and dessert, or as dessert," he says.
Comté can make a meal—and in some instance, be a main dish!—so we're sharing comforting, simple ways to cook with or serve the storied cheese.