These classic French Brebis or sheep's milk cheeses are made in the province of Bearn in the southwest corner of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Local farmers still adhere to the ancient practice of "Transhumance", or the transfer of livestock from the lowlands in the winter, to lush mountain pastures in the summer. Marie-Jose of Les Bergers du Haut-Bearn collects young cheeses from these farmers and ages them in her cave built into the former stables of the Chateau du Porthos, home of Isaac of Portau, French Guard and Musketeer. Mary-Jo's rich Ossau-Iraty designated brebis are made with the milk of Basco-Bearn sheep that graze on complex pastures of grasses, herbs and flowers including Alpine Clover and Thyme. The paste of these 7 month-old cheeses is smooth and rich, not strong or pungent, but with a complex, sweet nuttiness and gentle herbal note. Pair Brebis du Haut-Bearn with the local jams made from fresh black cherries and (if you like) a dash of spicy Piment d'Espelette.
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BERGERS DU HAUT BEARN
Caring for Your Cheese
How much cheese should I buy?
We advise buying small quantities more frequently to avoid long term storage because the complex flavors and aromas of good cheese will change and degrade over time. For appetizer quantities and not much left over, we suggest 1/4 lb per person. For larger servings or if you'd like some left overs, we suggest a full 1/2 lb per person.
How should I serve my cheese?
You can serve any number of cheeses: a single magnificent chèvre or a large selection celebrating the diversity of aromas, flavors and textures found in various traditions around the world. Choose what you like and what you expect your audience will enjoy. We usually go for a selection of three to four cheeses with various milk types, textures and flavors.
Take your cheese out of the refrigerator an hour or so before serving. Just before serving, unwrap each cheese and scrape the cut surface with a knife edge to remove a thin layer. If you notice dried out parts or mold on the face of the cheese, cut it away.
Can I eat the rind?
Most cheeses have rinds and most rinds are edible. If you don’t like the taste or texture, cut it off.
What do I do about the mold on my cheese?
Cheese stored for some time may grow exterior molds. Typical molds will be white or blue-green but you can sometimes come across yellow or gray. Most of the time, you can refresh the cheese by cutting away those affected areas. The cheese underneath will be fine.
How do I store my cheese?
Store in a higher humidity area of your refrigerator - likely an enclosed spot which allows for limited airflow rather than constant drafts.
How do I wrap my cheese?
Use a clean wrap of the cheese paper, or, in a pinch use parchment (for softer cheeses) or aluminum foil (for firm to hard cheeses).
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