Could I really affect the rind at this point with "a highly proteolytic morge blend", and if so, how would I go about that?
Yes, you have to wash it with a stinky morge, like you would for gruyere. Something with a good deal of b linens. Those enzymes will penetrate the rind slowly and flavor it. It looks like what you really made is a mesophilic alpine variant. Totally within the acceptable range, but more favoring the eastern types than what you find in the Basque country.
So I let this one get too dry during those first few days out of the brine....
Precisely. It formed a lovely dehydrated crust all around. I mean, in terms of skill, this is exactly what you want for something like an Italian thermophilic toma style, like a pecorino. But if you're aiming for a western style tomme, that isn't hand pressed at all. They stack them on top of each other and let them drain. The surface often has all sorts of pits. And then the mold growth covers all the pits over. But no press, and slow drain, and high curd moisture tends to ensure high surface Aw.
Do I understand clearly that low moisture content of the curd (low Aw) is a prohibitive factor in rind formation?
Let's differentiate between moisture-in-cheese (MFFB) and surface moisture (Aw). Two totally different things. When we talk about MFFB, what we're really talking about are the properties of the cheese and how dry it is, and how well it conforms to a specific style. A parmesan with a 40% MFFB would NOT be a parmesan, for example. When we talk about surface Aw, we are really talking about the threshold at which various flora will survive and thrive. Pathogens, and helper bugs have thresholds when they can enter the microbiological community on the rind. And the Aw determines how they interact. For example, a low surface Aw will promote slow enzyme penetration (so you wouldn't get something like a limburger), and will not promote the growth of many molds. It's a very important concept in bacteriology and sanitation because we can help ensure cleanliness by monitoring Aw on food contact surfaces.
This would be due to the fact that the medium is now not conducive to breeding...right?
Exactly. Conditions are not favorable.
Is this a pH issue, a stirring, or pressing issue or just a random something?
Look at it like a system. The edge of the cheese, even when in the press has subtly less moisture than the rest of the cheese. From that point, you can do whatever you want. You can try to create a huge gradient, where the surface will be very dehydrated, or you can actually re-hydrate the outer surface (such as by soaking the wheel in water after brining. Everything affects Aw. The moisture in curd does, because water travels a little in the cheese matrix. The brine concnetration does because a higher concentration will dehydrate the outer edge. pH does, because it helps to determine rate of ion exchange. Cheese matrix structure does, because higher fat tends to lead to higher moisture. Pressing schedule does, because having an ultra high initial press, followed by a low press makes for a dryer rind than a steady press (slightly so). Aging schedule does because temp and humidity have an affect. It's the way you see the cheese start to finish that determines the rind characteristics.
and I don't have any translucence nor any mold growth. What can be said for the Aw of this rind?
I have no idea. Remember, too, that if molds don't settle on the rind, nothing will grow. They don't magically appear. If your natural environment is very clean, you have to inoculate the milk and/or wash the cheese to introduce flora.
cave at 58-60F and ~77% to 80%RH.
If you want mold, you need to crank that up to mid 90s RH. 92-95 is good. or more, depending how you want the balance of flora to be and what inoculant you use.
really robust, fuzzy, multicolored bloom from all of the innoculated constituents.
You'll get there! I think this thread will help understand more of the nuances of rind formation. It really is incredibly nuanced because we're dealing with living organisms. It's like gardening... plant blueberries and get the pH wrong, and don't amend the soil, and don't give them enough sun, and plant them in the wrong path of the sun, and those blueberries are going to be pitiful. While your neighbor might do what looks like exactly the same thing, but have tons of huge berries. If someone were to watch me prep a tomme for a certain rind style, I can almost guarantee that it would not be easy to replicate without some trial and error because there are all these subtle triggers that I look for, and manipulate a few dozen variables (important ones mentioned above) to make them all work together. Some variables are less important that others, so it's more of an experience and practice than following instructions in a recipe.