Name: Tomme de Chevre de la Valle D'Aspes
Producer: Various (Pyrenees Mountains, France)
Milk: Raw Goat
Age: 2+ months
With a name like Tomme de Chevre de la Valle D'Aspes, what more needs to be said? The name is so long it says it all. What we have here is a small wheel of goat's cheese produced in Valle D'Aspes, also known as the Aspe Valley, located in the French Pyrenees. It's worth noting that not all examples of Tomme de Chevre come from this region. They are not even all made from raw milk (just the good ones). In fact, the Rhone-Alps area is also a major producer, as well as a bit from Corsica. These areas have one thing in common; they are all mountainous, perfect for producing this rich cheese.
In an earlier article I mentioned that, during my time in France, I made it a point to only try cheeses I hadn't encountered before. I won't lie to you; I had tasted Tomme de Chevre before. We carried it for a short while at Murray's Cheese and, though I enjoyed it, it didn't "wow" me. However, while shopping at Fromagerie Puig, I was offered a taste, and I was compelled to buy some of it. Regardless of my familiarity, this was one cheese I had to make room for in my luggage.
The texture of Tomme de Chevre is light and springy. On the outside, a reddish brown rind is covered in ripples, though it also still had some texture left from the cloth it was wrapped in before being pressed. It smells of olives, grass and fresh cream. Despite being a goat's cheese, which are generally lower in fat than other cheeses, this cheese begins to glisten with butterfat once it hits room temperature. This is an effect I usually see in its fattier cousin, sheep's cheese.
The cheese practically melts as it hits the tongue and I taste popcorn, lemon rinds and a return of the olives hinted at in the smell. It's relatively mild, but more than make up for it by its complex, layered flavors which finish with a lingering tang. This cheese is what I'd call a team player. It would go equally well with white wines as it would with reds, and even perhaps a little glass of amaretto.
I am proud to say that, unlike some of my recent reviews, this cheese is relatively widely available in the United States. I've seen it, at various points, at both Murrays's Cheese and Blue Apron Foods and, at Cobblestone Foods, we'll be carrying it shortly. I picked my luscious example up at Fromagerie Puig Fromagerie Puig (23 Rue St Guilhem, Montpellier) for € 25,00/kilo.