TOMME TOMME TOMME TOMME TOOOOMMMMMMEEEE. What a delicious cheese to write about for my first cheese blog post. I’ve challenged myself to write a post about a different type of cheese each week, here goes nothing!
First off, tomme is a style of cheese typically from France, and has been around for centuries. While there are many different tomme-style cheeses out there, most people are familiar with Tomme de Savoie, named after the region in which the cheese comes from. The Savoie region of France borders Italy and Switzerland, smack dab in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
Some American creameries have recently tried to replicate the ever-classic tomme. My personal favorite replica comes from Capriole Creamery and is called “Old Kentucky Tomme.” Yes, it’s a very clever name! More importantly it’s a delicious cheese!
Although a staple in French cheese consumption, Tomme de Savoie is definitely not the most visually appealing cheese. The wheels look squished, moldy and grimy, and have an odor of a dirty barn. Scratch that—the cheese itself looks and smells like it came out of a crusty old French barn. Not the cutesy French chalet buildings you’re probably picturing in your head, but a real deal shack that animals eat and defecate in. Historically, the cheese probably was born in a dirty old barn with the leftovers of butter making, as most cheeses were.
Tomme de Savoie is always made with unpasteurized milk coming from cow, goat, or ewe’s milk. Though the rind is somewhat offensive and furry looking, the flavor inside is gentle, earthy, and buttery. The inside is soft and spongy and full of little holes, making it a great cheese to melt. It can be eaten in many forms: breakfast, lunch, or dinner, melted on a hamburger, or shared with a nice glass of wine. Doing research on this cheese was interesting: some cheesemongers claimed the rind was inedible, while others insisted that eating the rind was one of the best parts of Tomme de Savoie. I always insist on eating the rind—unless the cheese itself is covered in wax or pressed with paper. The rind on Tomme de Savoie is sharp and almost astringent—but delicious nonetheless. So if you want the full experience that is Tomme de Savoie, chow down on the rind.
When it comes to pairing cheese with wine or beer, I almost always stick to this philosophy: quality items make quality pairings. If you’re drinking a quality wine with a quality cheese, you’re going to have a quality pairing! I once ate an entire bag of Lays potato chips with a $40 bottle of Gewürztraminer. I still stand by my conviction that it was one of the best pairings I’ve ever come up with. Tomme de Savoie would fair well with almost any beverage given its mild and earthy taste. If forced to make a pairing, I would suggest a fruity red wine (such as a Beaujolais or pinot noir) or a fruity beer like a saison. A can of ginger ale would even work—the ginger would cut the farmy flavors of the alpine cheese nicely.
Tomme de Savoie is a staple in any cheese collection. Impress your friends with this old favorite. Or save it for yourself, smell that stanky rind and pretend you are on the French countryside . . . up in the mountains, and far away from that gross barn we talked about earlier.