Fresh and Aged: Corsica's Great Cheeses

Beth Rooney

Given Corsica's mountainous topography, it's no surprise that sheep's and goat's milk cheeses reign. The most famous of them is brocciu, the ricotta-like cheese made from a mixture of whey, the watery by-product of the cheesemaking process, and whole milk—either sheep's, goat's, or both. Brocciu, which is richer than ricotta, may be the Corsican cook's most cherished ingredient; the cheese is essential for a host of savory and sweet dishes. The island also produces a natural-rind semifirm style called tomme, a generic French term for a disk-shaped cheese. The ones pictured at right are sold under the names tomme de brebis (made from sheep's milk) and tomme de chevre (goat's milk). These are aged from one to three months and can range from soft and supple to tangy and crumbly. Developed more recently are the creamy sheep's milk cheeses called brin d'amour and fleur du maquis, both rolled in dried herbs and made primarily for export. Another Corsican cheese is fromage piquant, made from scraps of long-aged tomme whose sinus-clearing bite comes solely from fermentation.