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’ve never tried "crunchy" cheese before but I liked the little crystals strewn through it, as they gave it an interesting texture. It seems to me that this batch came from a herd on winter feed—heavy on hay. It didn’t have the taste of milk from cows on fresh grass. I think this allowed for a more complex taste—pungent and earthy with slight undertones of citrus and a nutty finish. The nutty notes reminded me of our Arizona pecans. In fact, I tried the last of the cheese with toasted chile pecans. A perfect pairing.
I wanted to try something more traditional as well, so I decided on Aligot, from the French Auvergne. I fried fingerling potatoes in picholine olive oil, threw in butter, cubed tomme, garlic and a little crème fraiche, then mashed it up. Simple, rustic, and so delicious! My son had brought me some salumi from San Francisco: mortadella with pistachios-- so we had that on the side. Perfection.
I would buy this cheese. I would buy an entire wheel. Maybe two…