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with Fresh Tome de Bray Cheese High Normandy, France

“During summer the cheese tends to have notes of fresh grass and flowers, whilst in winter it has notes of nuts, butter and boiled potatoes.”

Monica Herrera Cheese maker & farmer

About Monica

Originally from Puerto Rico, Monica moved to France to learn the art of cheese making after completing a master in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.

In the region of Pays de Bray, famous for its butter and cheeses, Monica works with her husband to make Tome de Bray, on their small organic farm of 80 cows. It is a semi-hard cheese of the tomme family, with a naturally hard rind and a color that moves between beige and straw yellow depending on the season. Its taste changes throughout the year, reflecting the feed of the cows, which pasture on fresh grass all year round. As the organic milk used in the production is raw, the cheese is a true reflection of the terroir where it is made.

Unable to enter the market of mainstream supermarkets, small producers rely on direct sales to sell their produce. This form of transaction can be advantageous for both the consumer and the producer, as it creates a short chain of distribution and complete transparency. However, as more consumers choose the convenience and variety of multinational supermarket chains over local produce, it is difficult for small producers to compete.

To promote the local gastronomy of Normandy, Monica is assisting in the development of Terre de Rencontres, an association offering communications and promotional services to assist local small-scale producers who take care of not only production, but also of marketing, distribution, business and sales single handedly.

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The recipe

Although Aligot is not a Normand dish, it is traditionally made with fresh tomme cheese. It is a classic French winter dish and can be served as a side dish or as a dish in itself. It is described by Monica as filling and delicious, what she would call real “comfort food”.

Ingredients - serves 6

  • Serves 8 as a side dish

    • 800g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
    • 600g fresh Tome de Bray cheese, cut into small cubes or grated (can be substituted for any fresh tomme cheese or similar semi-hard cheese that melts easily)
    • 200g crème fraiche
    • Salt
    • Cracked Pepper


    • 1) Cover the potatoes with cold water in a large pot. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and drain.
    • 2) Mash the drained potatoes. Return the potato to the pan and put them over a very low flame.
    • 3) Stir in the butter, garlic and cream. Gradually add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go (Monica suggests using the traditional method of making figure eights in the pot).
    • 4) Once all the cheese has been incorporated and the puré has become glossy, taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

      Serve immediately, with crusty french bread, whilst the cheese is still stringy.

Nutrition value

Raw milk used in this recipe to produce cheese refers to unprocessed, untreated milk straight from the cow. It is high in calcium, which is a key nutrient for healthy bones.

Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré Dietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology

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