I decided to embark upon an investigation of Tomme du Berger, one of the more compelling washed rind raw milk tommes I have come across yet, because I realized that something wasn't quite right.
Word on the cheese street was that two French brothers devised the recipe from a mix of one brother's Provencal goat milk and the other's sheep milk from Corsica, the proportion of each dictated by the lactation cycles and the seasons. Romantic, yes, but realistic? Not when you're talking about transporting good but volatile bacteria-laden raw milk overseas from Corsica to Provence, where cheese production was supposedly based. If milk has far to go, you can bet your enzymatic stars that it's going to be pasteurized.
While I don't normally force my food under such investigative scrutiny, I felt it necessary to get to the bottom of one of my
favorite cheeses. A quick conversation with Laurent Mons of Maison
Mons, who exports the cheese exclusively, confirmed—after some
prodding—that I was indeed onto something.
Produced in southern Sardenia, shipped to Corsica, and transported to
Provence, Tomme du Berger has seen more loading docks than most
cheeses by the time it arrives in the States. I'd be lying if I said I
didn't feel a little bit of journalistic prowess when I unearthed the
truth about this supposedly French product. (Editor's note: cheese
identified hereafter as Tomma della Bergeressa.)
Meaty and pungent with an unequivocal sheepy finish, the cheese shines
despite its unbeknownst-till-now closeted origin. Enhance its sweet
milkiness with a drizzle of Sweet Yellow Clover Bee Raw Honey
a buttery, crystalline honey from the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Alternatively and with entirely different effect, the cheese works
alongside a selection of briny olives and your favorite brown ale.