Several days ago while reviewing Jean d’Alos’ Beaufort, I was reminded of the ingenuity driven by wasting as little as possible when making cheese. Depending on the type of cheese, the by-products can vary be it cream, whey, what have you. When talking recently with cheesemaker Andy Hatch, maker of Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Rush Creek, he related to me how he was thinking about the milk left at the end of the season: about how late-season feeding changes the milk, and the volume he had left lead him to think about what he might do with it.
Such thinking is a necessity for a farmstead, a dairy. Milk down the drain is literally, washing away profit.
And such is the history of this French cheese Tomme de Savoie.
Tomme de Savoie was originally made from skim milk, a by-product of summer Alpine cheese production such as Beaufort. Trivia: being that it’s made from Skim, it’s less fatty than many cheeses (like I care! but for some, that matters), with about 20-40% fat content depending on who/how made.
As it derives from an alpine heritage, Tomme de Savoie often sports a similar flavor profile. Again, as so many make it, the flavors can vary significantly. Word to the wise: always ask your cheesemonger to try it first, it might not be what you remember. Generally, however, you can count on it being complex, nutty flavor, rustic and simple. The mold-mottled, tough rind (not to be eaten in my opinion) is very earthy on the nose, musty and damp, belying the youthfulness of this
cheese which, for America-bound versions is generally only two months old. It fills a market gap while it’s hard-cheese brethren age.
The paste is alight-golden ivory, is soft and melts readily in your mouth. Try pairing it with tempranillo, barbera or fruity French reds from the region.
More trivia: “tomme” is not a specific type or style of cheese. in fact, there are several definitions of tomme. Suffice it to that it typically, and simply means a small round cheese. There are many types that use the name despite the recipe, many dozens across France.
Cheese: Tomme de Savoie
Where: Haute Savoie/Rhone Alpes, France
Milk Type: cow, raw
Shape: 12lb wheel
Tasting notes: simple, nutty, meaty, made richer by that musty/rusty rind