Sometimes people get freaked out by goat products – the common complaint is that the flavor is too "gamey" – but Tomme de Chevre is a goat cheese that is likely to please.
Tomme de Chevre is a good place to start developing a taste for goat cheese, according to Lydia Burns, cheesemonger at Marion Street Cheese Market. "It's very accessible," Burns said, "not only for a goat cheese, but for a washed rind cheese."
A "washed rind" cheese is one that has been mopped with a mix of water and sometimes wine or just brine to develop the bacteria on the surface, build up the rind, and add flavor to the cheese.
The Tomme de Chevre, which is produced in France's Loire Valley, is firm and very white, but it's also a soft cheese, almost spread-able. It's a good cheese to have with drinks (Burns suggests a malty beer), with pleasing saltiness and perhaps a touch of sweet fruitiness, for a very complex bite.
"It has kind of a slight, fresh grape flavor," observed Burns, "and after the sugar dissolves, there's maybe a bitterness, a kind of tannic quality, and there's a savoriness that goes along with the creaminess of the cheese."
And yet for all that, this is not a challenging cheese.
"Whenever I bring it to a party," said Burns, "it's always eaten up, always the first to be gone."
It's also not an expensive cheese (about $19 a pound, which is way more than generic grocery store cheese, but not a bad price for artisanal cheese). Part of the reason for this price break is that, according to Burns, "France, which is generations ahead of us in cheesemaking, has developed an infrastructure for cheesemakers that helps them keep the price down."
I bought some of this cheese a week ago, and I keep going back to it for small bites because it seems to be constantly revealing new flavors.