This was the first time I had seen this cheese and so, naturally I had to buy it.
In the world of traditional French cheese making this is a relatively new arrival, having been created in 1997 by the magnificently named Max Schmidhauser in the Savoie region of south eastern France.
There are some cheeses of the traditional type that are still created, either to satisfy the cheesemaker and his artisan ways, to fill a gap in the market or range, or perhaps, simply through serendipity. Either way, it is rare to see anything approaching novelty cheese in France. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough but the most offensive thing I’ve seen are those little round balls of goat cheese covered in herbs as an apero. And that’s not offensive. Not offensive in the same way as Wensleydale with apricots in. Or Wensleydale with cranberries, or those awful layered cheeses where you find a band of rubbery Double Gloucester and a band of Stilton. The UK has some magnificent cheeses but they [note the use of “they”] also have some of the most callous marketeers and witless consumers. The same people who allow pizza with hotdog sausage in the crust. Yes, them.
It’s a traditional tomme shape, about ten or 15 centimetres high and maybe twenty or thirty centimetres in diameter.
A tomme is a generic name for a cheese, often from Savoie, that are usually the same cylindrical shape and size. And that’s pretty much it.
It is a cows milk cheese and is normally aged for two months. The crust has a bloom of grey, white and yellow, the crust is maybe a millimetre or two thick and quite edible. The ivory to white paste is layered, with the layer nearest the crust being soft and starting to run and the centre has a slightly firmer paste, with a couple of eyes, perhaps like a vignotte but not at all chalky like a badly matured Brie. As an aside, the word “crayeuse” means chalky but maybe this means the colour rather than the consistency.
It has a delicate aroma, and very creamy taste and slightly salty with only a hint of refreshing lemon sourness. This is case for definitely eating the rind since a piece of this cheese, with the rind, some of the runny bit and the firmer paste, spread on a piece of decent bread is grand. And of course, if you were going to have some wine then a light red from the Loire Valley or a good, crisp dry white would be splendid.