Formaggio Kitchen cheese buyers discovered Ekiola Ardi Gasna back in 2010 on a trip to the Basque Country. Since then it has become an all-time monger and customer favorite.
Ardi Gasna or "sheep's milk cheese" is produced all over the French Basque region, but Ekiola (roughly translating to "hut in the sun") is unusual in that it is a fermier or farmstead cheese. This means that owners Désiré and Kati Loyatho raise their own sheep, make the cheese themselves, AND age it themselves. It is a true farmstead Ossau-Iraty AOP cheese, which is rare to find.
Désiré and Kati make their cheese in the small town of Gamarthe, France in the Pyrénées. This is a small sheep dairy (with about 700 sheep). On our most recent trip to visit in June 2022, Désiré was at higher altitudes making summer cheese (known as Fromage d’Estive) in a hut with 300 sheep. He is painstakingly passionate about raising healthy sheep, using the highest quality diverse feed. His cheeses’ flavor and nutritional value reflect his philosophy.
Ekiola Ardi Gasna is deliciously bright and fruity, with the sweetness of fresh mountain flowers, wild grass, and a nutty finish. It’s a perfect balance between mild and sharp. Formaggio Kitchen is the only importer of this cheese in the United States, so grab a wedge and be one of a few lucky people in the country to taste this incredibly special cheese. We recommend pairing this cheese with a black cherry jam, as the locals do.
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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