My apologies for this late post. I’ve been on a self-directed tour of Rocky Mountain goat dairies to get new ideas for my goat cheeses and to learn new techniques. In other words, I’ve tasted some excellent cheeses. If you have access to the cheeses from Amaltheia Organic Dairy in Belgrade, Montana, grab some, for goodness’ sake.
My tomme awaited me in the cooler of my son’s little bakery when I returned. Luckily, no one investigated the package or I wouldn’t be writing this at all. The cheese is the color of straw with a buckskin colored rind. Usually when I smell hard cheeses, they remind me of a cheese cave or cellar—dampish and sharp. The tomme, when held up close, fell into that category but when I held it farther away, it smelled mushroomy, like a forest floor (in Montana). When I tasted the cheese with the rind, I also definitely detected the sea.
I was shopping to prepare for hurricane Irene. I bought staple items like bacon and butter, as well as flour and other ingredients to make bread. The Point Reyes Tomme that arrived that day fit perfectly into my hurricane preparations. The letter that was enclosed said to savor it with a fine scotch or Tawny Port which suddenly made squirreling it all away impossible. So we set it out to warm up and poured the port.
It was Christmas in August when I received my Tomme from Point Reyes Farmstead in the mail. It is a hard cheese, not usually one of my favorite kinds of cheese but when paired with the suggested scotch (not a scotch fan, but the cheese made it very tasty, indeed), we found doing the research a real pleasure. My wing man (also known as the husband) and I had no trouble enjoying our task. Although this is a much milder cheese than the blues, the Tomme has its place in gastronomy. We liked the subtle after-bite when savored with a red wine. The crystals in the cheese definitely gave this cheese an extra zing. It was my favorite part of the cheese.
I was a little surprised when I got an email from Culture magazine saying that "something perishable" was going to be shipped to me in August. I was on a tasting panel for a blue cheese from Point Reyes cheese, but they said for sure is wasn't a new version of that cheese.
Let's see, something perishable from Culture magazine. What on earth could it be? Let's see ... bananas? Parsley? Or maybe it would be cheese.
Wow, I was right. It was cheese.
The cheese came with a letter. This is part of what it said:
"... we wanted to share a sample of some VERY special cheese that our cheese maker, Kuba Hemmerling, has been working on. Enclosed you'll find a sample of our Point Reyes Tomme. This hard cheese is pasteurized, aged about 18 months and similar to Tommes you would find in France or Switzerland. The aroma is very citrusy ad the texture is crumbly with definite flavor "pops" that are a result of crystalized proteins that form throughout the long aging process."
Hello! Kris Blondin here from STINK Cheese-Meat in Tacoma, WA, back again to review another lovely cheese from Point Reyes. I was waiting with great anticipation for the next sample to be dropped at my door, and last week it landed with a bang! This time around they have sent me/us a Tomme, which is a cow’s milk cheese that has been aged for 18 months.
The notes sent with the sample described the aroma as “citrusy”, but I noted a distinct nose of browned butter and grass. Weird? Maybe, but that’s the cool thing about sending a sample of something to several people – you’re going to get different reactions.
The texture is very firm but it truly melts in your mouth. You don’t expect it to get creamy, but it does. The protein crystals are firm and frequent through out each taste. So much of your taste buds are utilized with this cheese. There’s sweet, salty, and definitely umami or savory. Thankfully, no bitterness or worse yet, sour, but this cheese does make my mouth water.
After going through the motions of emergency preparedness, for Irene, the Accidental Locavore started to focus on the important stuff: what we were going to eat if there was no power. Cooking through the contents of a full fridge and big freezer was an option, however some things that didn’t need much if any preparation would probably be a good idea. Smoking a chicken seemed like a good idea, so I butterflied one and, after brining it overnight tossed it on the smoker. Three hours later, beautiful bird and one that would keep if the power were off for a while.
Since the Locavore was near the Culinary Institute early on Thursday, I stopped by to pick up a dozen croissants from the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. That proved to be the closest to a psycho-drama as the whole hurricane experience provided. Turns out, they don’t want you stocking up, so they’re now rationing croissants…but there’s a work-around for that (comment if you want to know what it is).
A new cheese has come onto the southern scene lately that I think you need to know about. Sequatchie Cove is a farm located in Sequatchie Cove, Tennessee, which rests just above Chattanooga. Of the two cheeses they make currently, the one pictured here is Cumberland, a glorious example of a French-style Tomme.
While Cheddar is a style everyone can easily grasp, Tommes are a little more difficult to get a handle on. Generally, their texture is light to semi soft and most posses a weathered rustic rind that gives the cheese an earthy aroma and taste. Tommes are fantastic on a cheese plate, and equally good when used in the kitchen. Potatoes are a natural partner.