For the first time ever in the history of our Cheese of the Month epic, we are featuring a sheep’s milk cheese! September’s cheese of the month is Ossau-Iraty (oh-soh ee-RAH-tee), a classic sheep’s milk cheese from the French Pyrenees. This cheese has been made for thousands of years and is still made with old world techniques and a traditional recipe.
Shepherds graze Manech and Basco-Béarnaises sheep in the Ossau Valley in Béarn and in the forests of Iraty, where they can enjoy the lush green of rainy mountain meadows in the Pays Basque. Ossau-Iraty was granted Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, (meaning its production and origin are strictly controlled) making it 1 of only 2 AOC sheep’s milk cheeses in France alongside Roquefort.
Ossau-Iraty is made with raw milk, has a natural light brownish rind, and a firm ivory paste that is slightly granular and oily. Its robust grassy sweetness is accompanied by notes of nuts and fruits, along with a rich sheepy tang. This cheese can range from sour, tart, and spicy to creamy, mellow, and buttery.
Ossau-Iraty is great for grating, cooking, and snacking. It can also be a lovely dessert, and is in fact nicknamed, “farmer’s dessert,” traditionally eaten with a smear of black cherry jam (which we carry if you’re interested). We are offering this cheese at a wild discount price of $16 lb (usually $20)! Come in and have a taste!