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Les Chèvres de Brassenx
There’s a new fromagerie in Orthez (officially in Argagnon but that is only about 4 minutes from Orthez). This is big news because 1) well things can move pretty slow in Orthez and it is therefore not that often that we arrive to find something totally new and unexpected has opened up and 2) goat cheese is not really the cheese of choice in SW France. With all due respect to Rocamadour and Cabécous from the Midi-Pyrenees, this is the Atlantic end and in the Béarn and Basque countries, the its all about sheep milk tomes, with Ossau Iraty being the reigning king.
The farm Les Chevres de Brassenx is a modest operation, with only about 60 animals and sales only at 3 local farmer’s markets and direct at the farm 3 days a week. When we stopped by, cheese making had just restarted after the winter period when the goat’s stop producing milk, which means limited supply and mostly young cheeses available. But for all that, the cheeses are beautifully made and redolent of fresh, raw milk…no surprise given that the owners (career changers like myself) learned their new craft working in the Poitou-Charente, the most prolific region in France for goat’s milk cheeses.
The other benefit of a spring visit is that the farm is literally awash in baby goats! Not to mention a border collie very insistent on playing fetch, 2 barn cats who seem a bit starved for attention and Monsieur the cheese maker who was more that happy to stop what he was doing to explain the functioning of the farm and cheese making laboratoire (and to introduce the animals).
The only thing we missed was meeting the troupeau, the herd of milking females, a mix of Alpine and Saanen goats. They apparently spend the majority of these spring days munching the flower and herb filled grasses of the farm’s pastures. Looking out across the prairie toward the Pyrenees, who can blame them?