Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cheeky Basque Guy

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I think the nickname kind of speaks for itself, but yes, the cheesemaker was a Basque guy with a pretty dry sense of humor. We got the impression that he thought we were kind of goofy and was chuckling to himself about us. At one point he looks at me and then says to Yvonne, in French, something to the effect of, "She doesn't speak French does she? I can see it in the blank stare". Despite the attitude, he was happy to show us around his farm and answer all of our questions. He had the cleanest and best run facilities that we saw on our tour, and his AOC Ossau-Iraty was excellent.

The Make
At this point we had seen a few farms and gotten detailed information about their make process, so I took a bit less detailed notes and more photos. They make cheese from four milkings at a time, every other day, in batches of about 300 L. They use chymosin for a coagulant, not natural rennet. The wheels are brined 10-12 hours/kilo.

The Farm
They have 200 black-headed Manex milkers. They milk 12 ewes at a time in their milking parlor. The sheep are milked from December to July and moved to mountain pastures for the summer.

The Cheese
rind: medium sized wheel, grey-brown rind with white mold
pate: small holes
flavor: butter, nutty, sweet
mouth feel: chalky, dry texture


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