Milk: Sheep. Pasteurized
Country: France, Pyrenees
Accompaniment: Medium bodied reds, fruity whites
From the lush mountains of the Basque region in France, Les Pays Basques, hails this wonderful little cheese. Buffered by the sea breezes coming in from the Atlantic while at the same time receiving the rain that falls down in the first elevated land mass the clouds meet, the landscape is ideal for raising sheep.
Petit Basque, as this sheep’s milk cheese is called, is a mild, pasteurized version of the traditional Basque sheep’s cheeses. It was originally produced from left-over curds, but is now a cheese in its own right.
As we discussed before, where the Alps produced cow's milk mountain cheeses, the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, produced sheep's milk mountain cheeses. Conditions under which these cheeses were made were very similar, so you should not be surprised to find that the cheeses are very similar in many respects (think of salt content and resulting eyes, texture and firmness and flavor profiles).
Petit Basque is creamy and has a somewhat sweet flavor with hints of nuttiness.
The local dish is Petit Basque with black cherry jam, but any sweeter fruit combines well with this cheese.