It's been ages since I did a cheesewatch - my very irregular reports on trying new cheese. Mostly because I often fail to try new cheeses. I came across Morbier recently and it's become a new favourite, but often I fall back on the tried and true or just don't buy cheeses for snacking unless I'm having people over or something. So I decided today that I would take advantage of being in France and try something new, and I selected Etorki because it was on sale and a Tomme Noire des Pyrenees just because it was reasonably cheap. By chance, they both come from around the same region.
The Etorki is a Basque sheep's milk cheese that looks much like a big Port Salut or Saint Paulin, with the same sort of rind plus semi-soft inside. It has a pleasant creamy texture and a good flavour without being especially strong. It actually reminds me of sort of a medium cheddar flavour, but with a completely different texture. Quite nice! However, because it is so creamy, a little goes a long way - you probably won't want to sit there eating the whole block (not altogether a bad thing!) It's not an AOC cheese, so you could theoretically make Etorki anywhere, although it's definitely marketed as a Basque cheese and my sample, at least, was produced in the region.
The Tomme, on the other hand, is a cow's milk cheese. I've had Tomme from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais before, when we toured a farm. As far as I remember (kind of traumatised by the video we watched featuring cow birth - or was it a sheep birth? We went to a cow and a sheep farm, so I forget) that was a very hard cheese. This one has a black rind (hence the name) and is softer than the Etorki, although still with approximately the same sort of texture. It has quite an unusual flavour, stronger and more distinctive than the Etorki with a bit of a sour cottage-cheese type aftertaste. I can imagine some people not liking it, but I do. I like cottage cheese too, for that matter (which they don't seem to sell in France? Fromage fouette is an addictive alternative though!) This one is AOC.
So there you go - two cheeses, two tasty new experiences!