Blessed are the Cheesemakers


Cheese is definitely my favourite vice – the flavour of good cheese along with some wine or port is fantastic to enjoy whether as a light meal in itself or in place of a dessert course. My friend, who has been living in France for the last 6 months or so, just popped in for a few days and brought me some fantastic cheese.

My fondest memory of cheese eating is when holidaying in Saint Pierre sur Dives with my parents at the age of about 15. We went to the local market to buy a few cheeses, bread and wine. Not only was the buying itself an experience, due to being able to try a fantastic range of interesting flavours, but we ate the cheese at a beautiful round stone table with fresh baguette and locally produced wine. The weather was very hot but we were sitting under a tree so we were cool in the breeze and shade. I’ve been hooked since.

The cheeses that my friend brought from Toulouse were Ardi Gasna Fermier and Itxassou – neither of which I’d tried before. The Ardi Gasna is a hard, ewe’s milk cheese which has a delicate nutty taste. Ardi Gasna is a Basque phrase for sheep’s cheese and the milk originates in the Pyrenees. The Itxassou region also has Basque roots and this blue cheese has a nice deep flavour, but without a harsh aftertaste that you often get with sheep’s cheese.

I can feel a trip to France coming on!

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