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
Fromager
Marché St Quentin
85 bis bd Magenta
75010 Paris

  • http://www.francophony.net kim

    this one has quite a nice look to it. it would definitely catch my eye at the fromagerie, that’s for sure.

    I have apparently become known as “the girl that likes cheese” among our circle, as our friend recently came back from a ski vacation and brought me back small pieces of four different kinds of cheese. only problem is, she told me very quickly what types she had bought, but I quickly forgot the names (that, plus I wouldn’t have known which was which anyway!). Oh well, mystery cheese tasting is coming soon! ;)

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  • Jennifer Ruddy

    Ça va Clothide!
    It is wonderful to read about someone else on a bit of a cheese voyage of discovery. Here in British Columbia, Canada, we have some lovely local cheeses that are just beginning to take off and are becoming that same gastronomic temptation for my husband and I that you and Maxence have experienced. Thank you for the link to that incredible cheese site thought – it is amazing!
    Cheers and good eating,
    Jennifer in Vancouver

  • http://www.foodandthoughts.blogspot.com Zarah

    Oh I love that cheese website, thanks for putting it in here – and it’s in DANISH, none the less! Cool! I work at a restaurant where they import the French cheese they sell themselves, so I could need a little tutoring… And as always, thank you for a fantastic blog!

  • http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com cucina testa rossa

    this must taste incredible!

  • http://weblogs.thingsasian.com/tablogs/page/cheiter Celeste

    Here in the Napa Valley, we call the residual grape skins ‘pomace’, but I’ve never seen it used in making cheese. How interesting… Although I have heard tell of some chefs using the lees, a sediment produced by the fermentation of wine, for preparing their signature sauces. Apparently it’s the next big thing, and some gourmet food distributors have even begun bottling it for sale. I’m keen to try it.

  • http://annesfood.blogspot.com Anne

    Oh, that really does look like blueberry cheesecake! :) Well, as a faithful reader of your blog, I was waiting for someone else to invite you to play in the Music in My Kitchen game, but I never noticed anyone doing so.. so, I guess I just did it myself. :) See this for details:
    http://annesfood.blogspot.com/2005/02/time-for-some-music-in-my-kitchen.html

    Now, I’m off to go get something cheese-y for lunch today, your post made me very hungry!

  • http://overacuppa.com may

    i really thought it was a blueberry cheesecake (one of my fav. desserts) at first! =cP looks yummy… will have to try to find something of a semblance to this cheese you talk about!

  • aude

    how lucky you are to live in France ! not that I don’t like Germany, but I’m not sure I’m going to find such goodies here…wiedersehen.

  • john

    Does “Marc de Raisin” refer to raisins that have been soaked in Marc or does it refer simply to grape skins mentioned above?
    Speaking of marc, have you ever come across a recipe for marc sorbet? Peter Mayle in his book “A year in Provence” talks about marc sorbet. I’ve been tempted to try making it if I could find a recipe of any sort.

  • http://www.carablack.com Cara Black

    looks yum…clotilde, can you recommend a good cheese shop in the 17th?

  • http://www.go-provence.com roger

    Keep the cheeses coming! I’d welcome your insight on some Provencale classics and the photos are superb.

  • http://www.mellischeese.co.uk Damian

    The ‘Marc’ in question is a strong French brandy distilled from the leftover wine pomace in winemaking. Basically, this cheese is a Tomme de Savoie soaked in marc for a month and then (presumably) rolled in a coating of dried grape pomice. Hope that helps!

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