And the featured region for March is… Savoie! A mountainous region on the Swiss border, Savoie is known for its picturesque ski chalets and abundance (no pun intended) of cow’s milk cheeses. This month, I am eschewing the more famous Savoyard cheeses like Reblochon and Beaufort in favor of some small-production tommes. (Actually, I called Nick one evening last week asking if there was a fromagier in the neighborhood where he works, and if he could bring me home some cheeses from Savoie. This is the kind of phone call you get from me if we’re married. Awesome husband that he is, Nick delivered these three spectacularly smelly tommes.) Tomme, as far as I can tell, refers to a semi-firm cheese made in a cylindrical shape. They are usually named for their town or region of origin.
From left, we have here Tomme de Bauges, Tomme Marc de Raisin, and Tomme Fermière. (If the cheese wrappers didn’t get mixed up, that is.) Surprisingly, the Tomme Fermière was the mildest of the lot. The pâte is smooth, with medium-sized, round gas bubbles. Slightly grassy with a hint of sharpness, it’s a good cheese, but not particularly remarkable. Next, the Tomme Marc de Raisin has bizarre, crumbly black rind. It’s a step up from the Fermière, a bit mustier and boozier in flavor, with a stronger, almost floral aroma. The texture is best described as “curd-y,” meaning that it seems to be composed of many small curds packed together, with uneven holes throughout. Finally, the Tomme de Bauges is the true standout. It is clearly the most aged of the three, and smells like Sex Panther. On the palate, it has a full, mushroomy flavor, which Nick likened to a firm Époisses.
It never ceases to amaze me that someting as simple and basic as milk can be transformed into such a wide variety of textures and flavors. Let’s hear it for Savoie and its wonderful array of cow’s milk Tommes! (For all you cheese fans out there, I am submitting this post to Chez Loulou’s monthly Fête du Fromage, which goes up around the 15th of the month. The assortment of featured cheeses is mouthwatering every time.)
Originally published on Croque-Camille.