A Specific Style
Tomme de Savoie is the specific cheese I am making for this months recipe page.
In the Savoie area of eastern France, bordering the Swiss-Italian border where I have learned to make this particular style (Tomme de Savoie), the dominant source of milk is the Abondance breed (pic below) with perhaps some Tarine/Tarentaise mixed in. Both are very hearty breeds that do well with this mountain climate and geography
This is a cheese which is often made with Reblochon in that region. You can still find it produced on family farms, as well as in larger co-operatives (Fruitière). The fresh cheese quickly develops a short hair-like mold (yes, Mucor!) and this gradually settles down into a very rustic brown-grey crust. The cheese body is also quite open and evolves from a firm to softer interior as the texture and flavor matures.
When made in the mountain farms (Fermier), the cheese is made and aged in it's own underground cave with milk from their own herds. This is usually sold directly from the farmhouse door.
Over the years, I have narrowed my choice down to one farm in the Aravis region of Savoie, where I usually buy my cheese.
This cheese can also be made at co-operatives, which are called "Fruitières" in France, where very high quality milk is collected from a local area and made into cheese by a very well trained and efficient group of cheese makers. Quite often these co-operatives are owned by the farmers themselves.
Both of these cheeses can be quite good, but the Fermier style is a bit closer to the Hand and the Land. Unfortunately, they do not usually make it into the retail chain in America.