One of the fundamental flaws in our plan to taste through a set list is that we tend to head to the cheese shop with certain cheeses in mind each week. Those of you with quality cheese shops in your neighborhood know that the better approach is to ask the cheesemonger what’s good. Cheeses continue to age when they reach the shop, and cheesemongers know best which cheeses are perfectly ripe at that precise moment. That’s not to say we don’t sample other cheeses, but our budgets just don’t allow us to bring home all the cheeses we might like. Happily this week, my cheesemonger’s recommendation paired up well with our “thoughts of spring in France” theme, as she steered me towards the Tomme Crayeuse, from Savoie in the French Alps.
This aged raw cows-milk cheese is still fairly heavy, dense and almost chewy in texture, with an earthiness from its mottled grey and yellow surface molds. (The rind is a little too funky to nibble, even for my high-funk tolerance level.) But the sweet, yeasty paste surprises the taste buds with a lighter, almost citrus flavor, that makes this cheese perfect for bridging that awkward between-season gap when your spring wardrobe isn’t quite sufficient for morning temperatures that still hover in the 30s. I devoured my wedge for lunch, but would like to try it with a fruity beer next time. A spicy red wine might be nice, as well.