Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pink-Cheeked Fly Lady

05 62 97 41 99

This was the only farm we visited that was in the Bearn region. She made cheeses with both cow's milk (vache), sheep's milk (brebis) and a combination of the two (melange). While similar in style to the other Basque cheeses we sampled, her sheep milk cheese was not an AOC Ossau-Iraty. The cheesemaker was in the middle of making a batch of brebis cheese when we arrived and was very enthusiastic about showing us her facilities and process. She was very hearty and charming and we liked her a lot. There was a bit of a fly problem--hence the nickname--and this farm seemed a little bit more seat-of-the-pants than some of the others.

The Make
Brebis cheese is made one day, vache cheese the next and when there is not enough milk for a whole batch of either, she makes a melange. The milk is heated in the cheese vat with the external gas burner. The curd is cut rather small and agitated 30 to 45 minutes. The cheese is pressed using large individual metal weights. The cheese is rubbed with salt on the outside of the wheel, not brined. During the two to six month affinage they control the humidity of the wheels by rubbing them with salt, rather than changing the humidity of the aging room.

The Farm
Ferme Cazaux has 250 Basco-Bearnaise sheep, as well as Alpine breed cows. They are hay fed. In the summer they move the sheep to the mountain pastures and milk them by hand. The cheese produced there is sold directly to hikers. There are three family members who work on the farm full-time and they produce 4 tonnes of cheese per year. Their milk/cheese yield for cow's milk is 10 L/1 kg and for sheep milk 6 L/1 kg.

The Cheese
rind: tan-orange rind with little grey and brown flecks
pate: smooth, soft
flavor: winey fruitiness
mouth feel: elastic texture

rind: tan-orange rind with white and grey
pate: many small holes, soft
flavor: pronounced wine flavor, very fruity
mouth feel: soft and very elastic


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