Cheese of the Month: Tomme de Linden Dale

The 90 or so LaMancha goats currently frolicking across the picturesque hills of the Mellinger family's seventh-generation Linden Dale Farms in Ronks, Pa., produce an especially mild milk that some might describe as "not too goaty."

And that mellow acidity lends itself to a variety of farmstead delights, from chuggable milk to luscious Greek-style yogurt (love the honey flavor,) typical fresh chevre cheeses coated with ash (the Dalencay) and wrinkly ripening rinds (the Laughing Lindy), and even a goat's milk Caprino Romano that adds a farmy little oomph when grated over pasta. For real complexity, though, Linden Dale's tomme-style effort is exceptional. Inspired by son Abram's experience working on an organic farm in France (a.k.a. "WWOOF-ing" through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.) This cheese is made from raw milk, unlike the farm's younger varieties.

There are one- and two-year-old versions of the tomme, but I especially liked the yearling because it still had a hint of fresh creaminess to its firm center, a high-toned tang that layered with echoes of nuts and butterscotch as I nibbled towards the drier exterior. Mary Mellinger, who runs their three-day-a-week stand in Lancaster's Central Market, concedes she's not so keen on eating the rind - but I thought that was actually the best part, a crackly gray crust from the year of cellaring that had an almost oniony savor, without a hint of overly pungent funk.

- Craig LaBan
Tomme de Linden Dale, $20 a pound, Linden Dale Farms, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at Stand 60 at the Lancaster Central Market, 23 N. Market St., Lancaster, 717-471-7899.