Tomme Brulee, literally meaning "burnt wheel" is exactly that. This sheep's milk cheese has been left to age, then the rind gets hit by a blow torch. Made in the Savoy Mountains in the Basque region of France, this cheese is similar in taste and texture to Spain's Manchego but with much more bitter saltiness. My first bite I thought "oh no, I'm not into this" but then I kept trying it, slice by slice, the more I ate the more I liked it. It kind of lingers in your mouth, at first bitter and smokey but then warms up with notes of salt, nuts and a teeny tiny hint of caramel. It borders on being a hard cheese and cuts a bit crumbly and the rind almost tastes like a burnt cracker.
How to eat:
We just sliced it and ate it either on its own or with a cracker. It's a little dry so I would definitely recommend eating it with something a little moist like quince or honey. It could be grated or shaved over a salad or pasta dish. Or add it to your charcuterie plate as the bold flavored cheese selection.
I thought that it was delicious with the Caramelized Onion flavor of Potter's Crackers. They added enough of a strong flavor to compete with the cheese. I would also suggest sweet components like apple slices, honey, quince or jams. As far as drinks go, I'd stick with stronger flavors like a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich brown ale.
Where to buy:
We purchased our little chunk at Taylor's Market here in Sacramento at $7.95 for 4.16 ounces. It is widely available all over the country at specialty cheese shops and groceries with a great cheese selection.