Grape Marc Aged Tomme

Tomme Affinée au Marc de Raisin

However uncanny the resemblance is, this is not a slice of blueberry streusel cheesecake. This is a Tomme Affinée au Marc de Raisin, sometimes referred to as “Who-the-hell-put-grime-on-my Cheese”.

Tomme de Savoie is a cow’s milk cheese à pâte pressée non cuite (pressed, unheated cheese *), and this one has been aged under a thick blanket of grape marc, the residue that’s left after pressing the fruit to make wine.

Tomme is not normally a very strong cheese — it is mostly fruity and mellow with a very slight sharpness — but this treatment deepens its flavor greatly, lending it a very pleasant earthiness. (Oh, and you don’t eat the layer of grape marc: you give it a taste for the sake of personal enlightenment, but soon conclude that it tastes like, well, grime.)

[* For a wealth of information on French cheese and in particular a most helpful description of the different categories (pâte molle, persillée, pressée ; croûte fleurie, lavée, naturelle), I recommend this website, made by a cheese enthusiast from Denmark (in English, French or Danish, whichever you understand best!).]

Maxence and I purchased this very unusual cheese from a stand at the Marché St-Quentin, a covered market in the 10th, close to the Gare de l’Est: we had scooted right past the building innumerable times, but had never visited it before. And although we did purchase some fine products, we found the market to be slightly melancholy and abandoned-looking, with half the stalls empty and shuttered — but that may have been because it was near closing time.

This particular cheese stall didn’t look like much at first glance, but a closer look revealed a careful selection of cheese, some of them completely unknown to us and very intriguing. Oh, we are very far from knowing everything about French cheese (thank heavens, life would be quite pointless then), but we are frequent and wide-eyed visitors of cheese stores, so we have developped a certain familiarity with the subject.

We had to restrain ourselves from buying everything that tempted us, but the owner, happy to see our excitement and obvious interest, made us taste slivers of this and that. Another winner in our selection that night was a figue, a fresh and wonderfully fruity goat cheese shaped like — you guessed it — a fig.

Gilles Quiécout
Marché St Quentin
85 bis bd Magenta
75010 Paris

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