Ossau-Iraty is an ancient Basque cheese, says Melanie Wong. Its production dates back at least 400 years, and it’s a wonderful cheese. It’s made from sheep’s milk and has a fine, creamy mouthfeel for a firm cheese. The flavor is beautiful, neither subtle nor overpowering. What really stands out to bellywizard is the aftertaste, reminiscent of peanut butter. Istara is a good choice.

mimosa finds Ossau-Iraty to be similar to Petit Basque and Abbaye de Belloc, two other sheep’s milk cheeses of similar texture from the same region in the French Pyrenees. While Ossau-Iraty is rich and nutty, Abbaye de Belloc is a cheese of sweet, delicate flavors. There are both raw-milk and pasteurized versions of Ossau-Iraty available; surprisingly, mimosa recommends the pasteurized milk cheese in this case. “The lush, semi-firm texture of the pasteurized version seems to work with the nutty, buttery flavors of the cheese,” she says. “The flavor of the raw version is a tad sharp, and the texture a bit too dry.”

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