This cheese was so good we just had to write about it. One of our historic favorites here at the store is Ossau-Iraty, sheep cheese from the Basque region of France. This tomme is comparable if a little softer and juicier than Ossau-Iraty. It hails from the Midi-Pyranees region a little to the north of Basque.
What is a tomme, you ask. Literally, a tomme is a wheel of cheese. The word is generic and means nothing more. Yet it does. For knowing cheese lovers the word tomme on a label signifies a product of quality. It's a specialty item made by a dedicated cheese maker as opposed to being one of a number of products made at a generic dairy.
Historically tommes were made using the left over milk after butter was made. And this cheese is nothing if not historical. Tomme-making in the Midi-Pyranees region goes back to ancient times. That left over milk with its fats depleted after the butter making, was leaner and earthier tasting than the original.
Tomme cheeses are also a generic style. That style is intrinsic to the French and Swiss Alps and each tomme label states the location of manufacturing immediately after the word, tomme. In this case the the town of St. George is the locale near the larger city of Aude in the Midi-Pyranees. This region is like a thumbprint on the map in the interior between the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and south of Bordeaux.
The Tomme Brebis St. Charles is moist and creamy and nutty and rich. It's like toasted bread at the beginning and sweet cream with leeks and chives at the finish. This complex sumptuous cheese would pair with Pinot Noir or another similar light sophisticated red.
Please join us this Thursday after 5pm at the regular weekly tasting and on Saturday the 13th between 1 and 3pm when David Hobbs presents a tasting of Spanish wines here at the store. We'll be sure to have Tomme Brebis St. George on the cheese table!