The promised pics. These are all commercial cheeses I bought at Central Market in Plano. The St. Marcellin and the Crottin were on my list of cheeses I especially wanted to try. The Tomme de Savoie wasn't actually on my list, but since I recognized it from reading about it on this forum, I picked it up too.
My favorite of them all was the Crottin de Champcol. It is a goat cheese, and it has that characteristically pure white color of the goat's milk. This example had a mild but unmistakeable goaty flavor, and a very soft creamy paste with a touch of graininess. The rind was pure white and very delicate. It had a strong aroma, but a mild (yet goaty) taste. It was equally good spread on apple segments or on rustic rosemary bread. I ate the entire two ounce disc, which appeared to have been cut from a longer cylinder of cheese. I'm guessing this, as the white mold rind was only on the outer edge, not on the top or bottom. I'm going to buy this a lot, and I'm going to try to make it.
The St. Marcellin was a wonderfully mild and smootly spreadable cheese that was best when smeared liberally on thin slices of the rosemary bread. Anyone could fall in love with this cheese. It is not as smooth or as elastically runny as the interior of a soft Brie, yet it is the definition of spreadable and creamy, almost like butter. The closer it comes to room temperature, the better it gets. There is a very light barnyard aroma, but you have to really put your nose in it to get the full effect. It's a mild cheese. I ate half the 80 gram disc the first time I sampled it. Tonight I will have the rest after dinner with a glass of Cotes du Rhone.
Whenever I try to get a friend to venture beyond the ubiquitous grocery store cheddar, colby, jack, or gouda, I look for the mildest and youngest Brie I can find. Now I know, should my victim become hooked, that St. Marcellin is an excellent second step to follow the gateway Brie.
The Tomme de Savoie was a totally different kind of cheese from the others. It was a firm cheese with holes, yet softer and less rubbery than Swiss. It had a warm yellow-beige color. It tasted nutty and sweet. It also had a slightly buttery aroma, but it was not creamy or buttery-tasting in any sense. In fact, it seemed like a fairly low fat cheese. It had a very rustic, brownish colored, dry and crumbly natural rind, flecked with green and yellow and tan colors. I wasn't sure if it was edible, so I cut it off and didn't eat it. Now this cheese is my idea of a one to eat on a sandwich with a mild rye bread and a thick, warm slice of ham. I bet it would melt really well, and would probably make a killer grilled cheese sandwich. But it was also good just nibbling on it at room temperature all by itself.
Here are the pics.