When I think of French cheese, I generally think of something blue and/or creamy, like the beleaguered Roquefort or decadent Bries and Camemberts. Yet the most popular cheese in France is a hard, aged Alpine cheese, Comte. Comte is one of France’s oldest cheeses as well, dating back to the time of Charlemagne. Comte is the French interpretation of Gruyere, derived from raw mountain-grazing cows’ milk, and aged for over a year for a smooth, slightly sweet caramel flavor.

While Comte is wonderful for snacking on as is – enjoyed by my toddler and dog (the latter snuck some rind off the table when no one was looking) – it would also make a lovely fondue into which to dunk spring’s first asparagus spears. I’d stick with French wine, of course, such as the white Cotes du Rhone I enjoyed recently.