My cheese of the week also hails from the mountains, but from the range on the opposite side of France – the Pyrenees. Ossau-Iraty is an raw, AOC sheep’s-milk cheese made in French Basque country, and its mellow, slighty oily flavor has become one of my favorites. Aged for 8-9 months, the cheese has a moldy rind that some eat, though I prefer to trim it away. I’d rather concentrate on the beige-colored paste inside the rind, which has a pleasing texture and firm bite.

My friend Ariela and I once included Ossau-Iraty as one of three cheeses in our picnic lunch, and it’s really the ideal picnic cheese because it can be paired with so many foods – fruit (especially apples), olives, cured meats, nuts and crusty bread. Bring along a bottle of a big red wine, like a Bordeaux or Zinfandel, and you’re all set for a lovely meal.

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