Unpasteurised Ewe's Milk
The Basque Iraty Mountain and the Ossau Valley gave this famous ewe’s milk “tomme” its name. A traditional recipe, it has been made in the Western part of the Pyrenees since the Middle Ages. The shepherds created it as a way to preserve the ewe’s milk in a nutritious (and delicious) way, and used the “tommes” to barter. Now an AOP cheese (since 1980), it is still made in the traditional way: the shepherds collect the milk at high altitude and make the cheese in chalets called “cayolars”. The young cheeses are then taken to an “affineur” who will mature the cheese slowly, carefully, for 4 to 6 months. By then, it will have developed a light brown orange rind, fairly thick, protecting the moist ivory pâte beneath. The texture is fine and elastic, with tiny openings throughout. Its flavours are delicate and complex, starting on mild lactic notes, becoming sweeter as the cheese melts in the mouth, finishing on smooth fruity and nutty notes: savour it, slowly, and you will be rewarded with an explosion of flavours. It is traditionally savoured with black cherry jam, or quince paste (dulce de membrillo).