Situated in the Bauges mountain range in the Savoie region of France. The picture-postcard views are breathtaking, I could feel the urge to burst into song, with ‘The hills are alive’.
Tamié Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in the Savoie region of France, bordering Italy and Switzerland. It exists today as a Trappist community of thirty monks who are well-known for their cheese-making: Abbaye de Tamié.
The cheese is soft and made from unpasteurised, locally sourced cow’s milk from three different breeds, Tarine, Abondance and Montéliarde. The monks use a whopping 4,200 litres of milk daily to produce 400 kg of cheese from fourteen farms across the Tamié valley.
The cheese is soft and made from unpasteurised, locally sourced cow’s milk from three different breeds, Tarine, Abondance and Montéliarde.
The cheese is 20 cm in diameter and 4 cm thick, and similar in texture to Reblochon. However, the Tamié is larger than Reblochon cheese with a less creamy pâte, but the taste is often stronger and more perfumed. The mechanisation of the production process has made the factory more efficient and less labour-intensive.
Cheesemaking is the main source of income for the monks; tours can be booked and the gift shop sells, of course, cheese, and other local delicacies, which also adds to their income. Frère, (brother) Nathanael who manages the factory was our host for the morning, and speaking via a translator he explained the cheese-making process, a recipe that has remained the same since the 12th century.
Unpasteurised whole milk is warmed to 34°C, then rennet is added. Once the mixture is sufficiently firm, the curd is cut using special blades to separate the curds and whey. The mixture is then left for twenty minutes to drain, placed in moulds with small drainage holes and then mechanically pressed to remove any remaining whey. After pressing, the cheeses or wheels are removed from the moulds and immersed in a brine for two to three hours before being transferred to caves, where they are stored for three weeks at a constant 13-14 degrees in 95% humidity.