Snapshots from Jura, France: Cows, Comte Cheese, Charcuterie, and More

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

From June 19th to June 25th, I traveled around the Jura region of France as a guest of The Comté Cheese Association. I'll be filling you in on what I ate, drank, poked, prodded, and otherwise documented on the awesome trip in the land of cheese and wine.

If you are anything like me a couple of weeks ago, you most likely knew the Franche-Comté region of France only for its prominent role in history during the period ranging from 199.6 to 145.5 million years ago when giant ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs roamed the oceans that covered what are now lush forests and mountains (Jura is where the term Jurassic comes from). Of course, you probably also know about Comté, the sweet and nutty A.O.C. cheese produced from raw cow's milk and widely distributed around the world (you can even get it at Trader Joe's, though if you want the best, you probably shouldn't).

If you're really in the know, then you'll have tasted Vin Jaune, the oddly pungent yellow wine produced from local savagnin grapes that's allowed to oxidize in its barrels, producing a funky, sherry-like finish.


Driving through the winding road between Geneva and Arbois (home of both Louis Pasteur and the decidedly un-pasteurized Vin Jaune) reveals the kind of landscape that would inspire Rodgers to exchange knowing nudges and nods with Hammerstein. Rolling green hills, brooks and streams lined with purple and yellow wildflowers, charming Swiss and French-style chalets, fields of sunflowers and wheat, cows lazing about in the sun, and the like.

I'll gladly admit that the Sound of Music soundtrack was pretty much on repeat in my mind during the entire trip (I played the backstabbing Rolf in a middle school production of the show).


Over the next couple weeks, you can expect a whole slew of Francocentric slideshows, reviews, recipes, and songs (maybe). For now, click through the slideshow for a quick overview of the wide range of tasty comestibles the region has to offer.