Friday, October 10, 2014

#47 - Chebris (Tomme Brebis-Chevre)

Back in March when I was in Auckland for the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards, I made up my own "walking tour of Auckland cheese shops".  It was a bit of a stretch as none of the shops are particularly central, and I had to take shelter a few times from passing torrential downpours.  And perhaps I should have taken a bus back from the last shop as it was a long walk.  But it successfully filled in the day, and it gave me a good appetite for the awards dinner later that evening.

The favourite shop that I visited was La Fromagerie, run by Maison Vauron on McColl Street in Newmarket. Here they have New Zealand's largest selection of imported French cheeses, along with all manner of other French specialties: charcuterie, rillettes, mustards, pates, preserves and fresh baking.  It was pretty hard for me to choose only a few cheeses to take home (I do admit to staring at the selection for a good 15 minutes).  In the end I chose a Picodon (a 60g goat cheese covered in Geotrichum) and a wedge of Chebris.  I will not write about the Picodon because by the time I ate it from my fridge it was probably not the best example of that cheese (one day I'll taste one in France and can give a proper account of it).

Tomme Brebis-Chevre (Chebris)
Made in the French Basque region in the foothills of the Pyrenees, this cheese is actually referred to as Tomme Brebis-Chevre, including the French words for sheep and goat respectively.  So the name Chebris is literally a shortened description of this mixed milk cheese.  It is a firm, pressed cheese.  The rind is quite thin, and is dry with a mixture of colours - orange, grey, white and brown. The aroma is slightly earthy.  The paste is a creamy yellow colour. The cheese was a little oily after a short time resting out of the fridge which was not too appealing but also not surprising for a hard cheese.

The flavour was savoury and sweet, balanced with a slight earthiness and a reasonable amount of saltiness. There was a slight 'soapiness' to the flavour as well, but only so slight as to actually balance well with the rest of the flavours.  The texture was firm and waxy, but still smooth.  Overall the flavour was quite complex, constantly changing between first chewing and swallowing.  This is what I like about mixed milk cheeses - the ability of the cheese maker to bring out the different aspects of the milk types used.

This Chebris would be great shaved over a salad, pasta or a meaty ragout.



  1. What is causing the soapiness

    1. Daniel, I would expect the 'soapiness' to be a result of lipolysis. So, lipolytic enzymes acting on the milkfat and producing free fatty acids. If the cheese was made with raw milk, the most likely cause would be natural lipolytic enzymes in the milk. If pasteurised, perhaps the starter cultures and local flora have enougch lipolytic activity to give the low level of soapiness. Maybe the rind flora could have contributed.