One of the most beloved rituals that happens behind the Formaggio Kitchen cheese counter is the cracking and sampling of a new wheel of cheese, particularly if it is the first we’ve seen of the cheese in some time. Tasting is an essential aspect of what we do behind the counter: it helps us keep tabs on how cheese flavors change over time and from batch to batch, and through repeated tastings, we can better form a full mental picture of each cheese on offer. But beyond the practicality of this continual sampling, there’s something magical about taking a brief pause from the frenzy of our daily activities to touch, smell, and taste– to listen to what a new cheese has to say.
This week brought us a wheel of Worcester Tomme, which has been absent from our wall for several months. It comes to us from Sage Farm Goat Dairy in Stowe, Vermont, a farm that embodies many traits we admire in cheese producers: small-scale, family-run, and committed to traditional practices. Sage Farm is owned and operated by Molly and Katie Pindell, two New Hampshire-born sisters whose varied career paths (collectively, their résumés include professional cooking, food writing, cheesemaking, wildlife biology, and botany) eventually led them to purchase their farm in 2007. Nearly a decade later, the two sisters and their partners still handle all aspects of their business, from animal care to cheesemaking to bookkeeping. Their herd of Alpine goats is small– somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 does– and they are pasture fed from April through November, infusing the goats’ milk with ample local flavor. The sisters take great care of the goats through every stage of their lives; as they say, the goats are “the backbone of our entire farming operation, and as such, we treat them with immense care and compassion.” The attention, respect, and hard work they pour into their farm and their cheeses is apparent even from one taste.
We almost always have at least a couple of Sage Farm cheeses available (you might have caught us dishing out samples of their Valençay-inspired Sterling a few Saturdays ago), and while they are all delicious, Worcester Tomme is a standout to this monger. Bright, grassy flavor shines through, thanks in part to its raw-milk composition, and the mild tang I expect from goat cheese is also present. But what really pushes the flavor over the edge is the natural rind: nutty, slightly spicy, and earthy, it gives the cheese another dimension entirely. Where young, fresh chèvre is sweet and peppy, Worcester Tomme is delicately complex and understated.
Nothing beats the excitement of discovering a new favorite cheese, and the best part of working the cheese counter is sharing that experience with our customers. When you next find yourself at Formaggio Kitchen, ask for a taste of Worcester Tomme– and be sure to ask your monger what cheese has spoken to her lately.
Jesi Nishibun is a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge. When she’s not behind the cheese counter, you can find her with her nose in a cookbook, or experimenting in her home kitchen.