This has been a good year for cheese at Formaggio Kitchen. We were lucky enough to visit several producers — both old friends and new acquaintances — who are sending us some incredible cheeses. Throughout the holidays, as family and friends come to town, or as you pack for a trip of your own, be sure to have a good selection of cheese on hand for simple snacking or to create an elegant cheese course. For help finding just the right cheese, here are a few highlights from our recent trips. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Tomme Crayeuse’
Here at Formaggio Kitchen – despite our obvious allegiance to the Italian word “formaggio” – our dedication to French cheeses and other produits du terroir is the foundation for our entire selection. So, visiting France and meeting the folks who make the dozens of different products we regularly import is a special experience – kind of like when you visit a college friend at home and meet their parents, see their neighborhood.
Every two years, France hosts a huge fair in Paris, Salon de l’Agriculture, to celebrate the people and products that make up the country’s agricultural scene. Imagine eight convention centers, each with a different theme — one hall full of wine, another full of olive oil, and even one full of animals. It’s a giant country fair, complete with medals and honors – Paris-style.
We attended earlier this year specifically for the cheese show, Salon du Fromage. This particular salon is open only to industry professionals and is an opportunity for cheesemakers, affineurs and distributors to display their products and chat with clients. Cheese industry folks from all over the world crowd the hall to see what’s new and catch up with associates. We bounce from appointment to appointment: discussing packaging options for a new large-format Epoisses, for instance, then meeting with a cheesemaker from the Pyrénées to taste sheep cheese and learn about the new co-operative dairy they are building to support area shepherds.
This is one of the most common questions that I get when I work on the cheese counter. My answer: yes, usually I do. Pretty much all cheese rinds are easily digestible. The primary exceptions are cloth-bound and wax rinds. After that, it’s pretty much personal preference.
A rule of thumb – cheeses tend to get stronger the closer you get to the rind and the rind itself will be the strongest tasting part of the cheese. If you are tasting a cheese for the first time and aren’t sure whether you will like it, start with a nibble from the center-most part of the ‘paste.’ Then, if you like what you are tasting, gradually work your way outwards. If you like all of the paste, give the rind a go!
Having eaten cheese for a while now, I know there are some rinds I definitely don’t like, rinds that most folks don’t eat: Parmigiano Reggiano is one example (grilled parm rinds are an exception!) and Comté is another, even though it has a natural rind. My stomach could digest them – I just don’t like the way they taste or feel in my mouth. That said, there are some cheeses I love that are particularly scrumptious, in my opinion, because they have delicious rinds. Among these, I would include Tomme Crayeuse, Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue and Ardrahan.
They are all very different styles of cheese – Tomme Crayeuse is semi-soft cheese and has a very earthy, mushroom-y flavor profile, underscored by its natural rind.
Bayley Hazen is a medium-strength blue cheese that tastes really nutty – the rind is like a distilled version of this fantastic nuttiness. Ardrahan is an Irish, washed-rind cheese. Its rind is brine-washed and this saltiness shows through – sometimes enough to
make me think of the ocean while sometimes it manifests itself in more of a peanut-y flavor. Either way, it is really snackable (oh, and great with beer!).
My advice – give the rind a try! If you don’t like it, you’ll know for next time. On the other hand, you may just discover another reason to love a cheese!