What is Tomme de Savoie? The Quintessential Alpine Cheese

What is Tomme de Savoie? The Quintessential Alpine Cheese - Cheese Origin

Today, we delve into the heart of the French Alps, unearthing the secrets of a cheese that embodies the spirit of its rugged and beautiful origin – the Tomme de Savoie. This semi-soft, artisanal marvel is as versatile as it is flavorful, with a rich heritage rooted in tradition.

Tomme de Savoie is not just a cheese; it’s an experience, a taste of alpine pastures, centuries-old cheesemaking techniques, and the simple yet profound pleasures of life in the Savoie region of France.

Quick Facts About Tomme de Savoie

OriginSavoie, France
Cheese TypeSemi-soft, artisanal
Made FromCow’s milk
TextureDense and firm with small holes
Flavor ProfileNutty, grassy, slightly tangy
RindNatural, grayish-brown, often covered in mold
Ageing TimeAt least 2-4 months
Fat ContentTypically around 20-45%
PairingsFull-bodied red wines, crusty bread, charcuterie
Serving TemperatureRoom temperature for best flavor
Production MethodTraditional, handcrafted
Cultural SignificanceA classic representation of French Alpine cheeses
StorageIn a cool, humid environment, preferably a cheese cave or the vegetable drawer of a refrigerator
NutritionHigh in protein and calcium, contains lactose
AvailabilityYear-round, but best in summer and fall when cows are grazing on alpine pastures

What is Tomme de Savoie?

What is Tomme de Savoie?

Tomme de Savoie, a cheese hailing from the French Alps, is a culinary treasure that perfectly encapsulates its native Alpine terroir. This upland variety of Tomme cheese is made from raw, skimmed cow’s milk, a process that lends it a unique characteristic. After the cream is drained to make butter, the remaining milk, containing 20-40% fat, is used to create this delightful cheese.

This semi-soft cheese is noted for its mild yet distinct flavor profile. It’s tangy and rustic, with subtle notes of wet straw and dried fruit. The taste of the cheese is also influenced by the quality of the milk, which varies according to the seasons and the diet of the cows.

The texture of Tomme de Savoie is equally enticing. It often has tiny holes and is very savory with a mild aroma. Some cheese connoisseurs point out that this cheese is noted for its “fruity” nuances. The rind is natural, grayish-brown, often mottled with yellow and red spots.

Tomme de Savoie is not just a cheese; it’s a testament to the traditional cheesemaking practices of the Savoy region. It’s a farmhouse-style cheese, displaying a bouncy, pliant texture and taste of milk, hay, earth, and nuts. Each wheel of Tomme de Savoie tells a story of the land it comes from and the people who painstakingly craft it. Whether enjoyed on its own, paired with full-bodied wine, or used in cooking, Tomme de Savoie is a flavorful journey through the French Alps.

What Does Tomme de Savoie Taste Like?

Tomme de Savoie’s taste is often described as grassy and nutty, with an earthy undertone that enhances its rustic charm. The flavor can vary quite significantly, with some detecting notes of hazelnut, while others identify a mildly grassy taste.

The cheese’s rind contributes to its overall flavor profile as well. It is perfectly edible, offering a soft, almost fuzzy texture and an added earthy taste. The pate of the cheese is often white to light yellow, covered with an ivory to yellow rind.

When young, Tomme de Savoie’s flavors are particularly fresh, with hints of grassy and citrus notes, making it an excellent pair with young and fresh wines like Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. A bite into this cheese reveals subtle earthy notes and a sweet undertone.

After 2 to 4 months of maturing, the texture of Tomme de Savoie becomes pliable and firm, and the flavor develops a deeper complexity. It becomes nuttier, retains its grassy characteristic, and gains hints of mushroom and citrus. This cheese is not just food; it’s a sensory journey through the lush pastures and rich culinary traditions of the Savoie region in France.

Tomme de Savoie Tasting Notes

Tomme de Savoie Tasting Notes
  • Appearance: Tomme de Savoie has a rustic, mottled gray-brown rind. The interior pate is creamy-white to pale yellow and dotted with small holes.
  • Texture: This cheese is semi-soft and firm with a slightly pliable texture. It also has a dense consistency that becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages.
  • Smell: It has an earthy, barnyard aroma with hints of fresh-cut hay and cow’s milk. Some people also sense a slight smell of a cellar or damp cave.
  • Taste: The flavor of Tomme de Savoie is complex and layered. Initially, it tastes mildly tangy and nutty, with a grassy undertone. As it matures, the taste develops into a rich blend of earthy and mushroom flavors, with a lingering note of citrus.
  • Rind: The rind of this cheese is edible and contributes to its overall flavor. It offers a contrasting earthy taste that complements the cheese’s inner paste.
  • Aftertaste: The finish is smooth and long-lasting, leaving a pleasant, somewhat fruity aftertaste in the mouth.
  • Pairings: Tomme de Savoie pairs well with full-bodied red wines, crusty bread, and charcuterie. It can also be paired with light white wines or beers.

How to Eat Tomme de Savoie?

Tomme de Savoie is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in numerous ways:

  1. On its own: Tomme de Savoie is often savored as it is, allowing its complex flavors to shine.
  2. Charcuterie: This cheese pairs excellently with charcuterie, enhancing the flavors of both the cheese and the meat.
  3. Eating the rind: The rind of Tomme de Savoie is perfectly edible and can be eaten. Some cheese lovers find the rind one of the best parts as it complements the milky and slightly tart paste of the cheese.
  4. In Baked Goods: Tomme de Savoie can also be used in baking. It’s great in recipes like Dauphinoise and Tomme de Savoie Tartelettes.
  5. Sandwiches: This cheese is commonly used in sandwiches in France, adding a rich flavor to the bread.
  6. With Coffee: In the Savoie region, locals are known to enjoy this cheese with their coffee as an afternoon snack.

How is Tomme de Savoie Made?

How is Tomme de Savoie Made?

Tomme de Savoie requires a specific method of production to achieve its unique taste and texture:

  1. Milk Selection: Tomme de Savoie is typically made from cow’s milk. The milk used can be either raw or pasteurized, depending on the specific regulations of the region. It’s often made from the skim milk left over after the cream has been used to make butter or richer cheeses.
  2. Curdling Process: The milk is heated and then mixed with rennet, which causes it to coagulate and form curds.
  3. Pressing: The curds are cut into small pieces and then pressed to remove the whey. The cheese is then shaped into wheels.
  4. Salting and Aging: The cheese is salted to enhance flavor and help in preservation. After salting, the cheese is aged for several months in a cool, humid cellar. During this time, the cheese develops its characteristic flavors of citrus, mushroom, and a hint of cellar.
  5. Rind Formation: Over time, a natural rind forms on the exterior of the cheese. This rind contributes to the overall flavor profile of the cheese.
  6. Final Product: The result is a semi-soft cheese with a suede-like, gray/tan rind and a mild, clean flavor.

10 Best Tomme de Savoie Substitutes

CheeseShort DescriptionShort Tasting Profile
Tomme CrayeuseA semi-soft, cow’s milk cheese from France.Rich and slightly tangy with a hint of earthiness.
Saint NectaireA French cheese made from cow’s milk.Nutty and mushroomy flavor with grassy notes.
MuensterAn American cheese made from cow’s milk.Mild, creamy flavor with a smooth, soft texture.
CheshireThe oldest known cheese from England.Slightly salty, crumbly texture with a milky flavor.
Pecorino RomanoAn Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk.Salty, sharp and rich in flavor.
Ossau IratyA French cheese made from sheep’s milk.Nutty and fruity with a firm and creamy texture.
EtorkiA sheep’s milk cheese from the French Basque region.Sweet and nutty with a smooth, velvety texture.
MorbierA French semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk.Creamy and slightly bitter with a distinctive layer of ash in the center.
NeufchâtelOne of the oldest cheeses in France.Soft and crumbly with a slight tanginess.
TaleggioAn Italian cheese made from cow’s milk.Fruity tang, with a strong aroma and a very soft, creamy texture.

What Pairs Well With Tomme de Savoie?

What Pairs Well With Tomme de Savoie?

Food that goes well with Tomme de Savoie:

Food CategoryFoods
FruitsApples, Pears, Grapes, Dried Fruits (like figs and apricots)
BreadsFrench Baguette, Sourdough, Whole Grain Bread, Crackers
Cured MeatsProsciutto, Salami, Spanish Chorizo
NutsAlmonds, Walnuts, Pecans
Condiments & SpreadsFig Jam, Honey, Quince Paste
VegetablesPickles, Olives, Roasted Red Peppers
DessertsDark Chocolate, Berry Tart, Apple Pie

Also read: What Fruit Goes on a Charcuterie Board?

Beverage that goes well with Tomme de Savoie:

Beverage CategoryBeverages
WineBeaujolais, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Côtes du Rhône
BeerBelgian Ales, Stout, Brown Ale
SpiritsBrandy, Whiskey
Non-AlcoholicApple Cider, Pear Juice, Grape Juice

Also read: Best Wine and Cheese Pairings: The Ultimate Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Tomme de Savoie does melt. It’s a semi-soft cheese, which means it can be used in recipes where melted cheese is required, such as in sauces, gratins, or on top of pizzas. However, its melting characteristics might not be as smooth and uniform as some other cheeses specifically designed for melting, like mozzarella or cheddar. The flavor of Tomme de Savoie when melted is creamy and robust, adding a unique touch to dishes.

The rind of Tomme de Savoie is edible, but whether or not to eat it is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people enjoy the extra flavor and texture it adds, while others find it too strong or tough. The rind is typically gray and a bit fuzzy due to the natural molds that develop during the cheese’s aging process.

It’s important to note that while the rind is technically edible, it can sometimes be washed in brine or aged in environments that might give it a very strong or earthy flavor which some people might find unpleasant. If you’re unsure, try a small piece first to see if you like it. Also, be sure to properly clean the rind if you choose to consume it, as it can occasionally have grit or other residues on it.

Tomme de Savoie is categorized as a semi-soft cheese. It’s firm and pliable but not as hard as some cheeses, nor as soft or runny as others. This makes it versatile for many culinary uses, from slicing for a cheese board to melting in cooking.

Tomme de Savoie pronunciation in French is: “Tohm deh Sah-vwah.”

Here’s a breakdown:

  • “Tomme” is pronounced like the English word “tome” with a short ‘o’ sound as in ‘hot’.
  • “de” is pronounced like ‘duh’ with a soft ‘e’.
  • “Savoie” is pronounced as ‘sah-vwah’, with ‘sah’ rhyming with ‘la’, and ‘vwah’ sounding similar to ‘qua’ in ‘quart’.

Please note that this is an approximation as some of the sounds don’t have a direct equivalent in English.

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