BEYOND CHEDDAR: On “Abbaye de Tamie”, The French Cheese With A 900 Year History
by Joe Chaput | The cheese is made exclusively by the monks at the Cistercian Abbaye Notre-Dame de Tamié, which is located in Albertville, in the region of Savoie, France. Founded in 1132 by Peter of Tarentaise, it’s a picturesque and serene place; if there was ever a reason you’d ever run away to be a monk, the location would be a likely candidate. The monastery is financed by the monks who work the land and gather the milk of surrounding farms to make their famed Tamié cheese, which they’ve been doing so since the 12th century. It’s a fine example of making one product only, and putting your heart and soul into it.
The first thing you notice about Abbaye de Tamie is its smell. The cheese is many things, but it’s not shy. Made from unpasteurized milk, the flavour and aromas are reminiscent of Reblochon, but perhaps even stronger. When you open the package, you get a whiff of hay and cellar that smacks you in the face. During the ripening process, it is washed regularly with brine. It is then aged in the vaulted cellars of the Abbey to maintain its crust and to encourage the development of mould. The texture is supple and creamy, yet slightly firmer than Reblochon, and the taste is a notch fuller, with more of that cream and hay. Common opinion pairs it with Beaujolais. However, we were fortunate enough to have enjoyed it with an aged Bordeaux. Keep it simple: choose a not too tannic red and you’ll be good.
The cheese comes to us in two sizes; 600 gr and 1.5 kg. les amis du FROMAGE currently stocks the larger wheel, priced at $6.99/100gr.
Joe Chaput is the Cheese Editor of Scout Magazine (because of course we have a Cheese Editor!), the co-proprietor and fromager of East Hastings’ Au Petit Chavignol, a member of the Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie du Saint-Uguzon and a Red Seal-certified cook. His Scout column – Beyond Cheddar – deals with all things stinky, oozy, sharp, soft, creamy and delicious.