Name: Sagging Fence goat tomme
From: Port Orchard, Washington State
Made By: Sagging Fence Farm
Milk: Raw goat’s milk
Curdling type: rennet
Size/ weigh: Round tomme about 4# in weight
Rind: Natural rind that is washed weekly during aging
Interior: semi firm, very pale ivory color
Aged: 3-5 months (maybe longer due to recent closures!)
This goat’s milk cheese is made by Bob and Juli Fisher on their farm near Port Orchard on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where they also pasture raise Aracana chickens for eggs. Although they have made cheeses together for years, Sagging Fence Farm (Juli says the name comes from the farm’s wire fences when hungry goats climb on them trying to get better stuff on the other side) came into being in 2014 as a retirement “job”.
Their goat milk tomme is made from the milk of their herd of 24 Nubian goats, although only 6-8 of these are producing milk at any one time. Each 4# wheel takes 4-5 gallons of milk to make, so the total production is only 4-5 cheeses per week. It is a firm, finely textured cheese with a rich, full flavor that reminds me of the cheeses of the French Basque Countries, where sheep milk predominates but goat’s milk versions also exist. Weekly washing of the rind (“to prevent unwanted growth” during aging, says Juli) adds to complexity and full-flavor to the fresh lactic flavor of the interior.
It is a rare treat to be able to sample a raw milk cheese of this quality made by dedicated artisans right in our own back yard. Although Le Pichet and Cafe Presse are both still closed due to the Governor’s mandate, each restaurant has one of these goat tommes quietly aging in our cheese caves. We can’t wait to see how good it will taste when we reopen! In the meantime, you can generally find Sagging Fence cheese at Quality Cheese in the Pike Place Market.