Cheese Profile: Petit Basque

Monday, February 8, 2010

-Petit Basque is one of those perfect little sheep cheeses you'll pick up again and again.-

"I've got a challenge for you, cheesemonger."

"Oh yeah? Bring it on," he said with brass in his voice.

"I need a good cheese that can stand on its own. Something that'll wow my guests, and make my friends roll their eyes back into their grins. A cheese that doesn't just dance on the tongue but does the hustle in platform shoes."

"Is that all? You dragged me out here for this? Why any good gouda or swiss can do that. Go grab a wedge of Vella Dry Jack and leave me be!" he chastised, waving me on my way.

"Wait, wait! Who said I was finished? This cheese should also stand up to a bowl of spicy chili con carne, one laden with smoked chipotle peppers, garlic, and cumin. It needs to be a cheese with gusto. Something with punch to fight the kick of the chili."

"Punch and kick? So you want something wu-shu sharp?"

"Not too sharp, I have a few friends who are white belts when it comes to cheese so no wise and ancient cheddars, otherwise it'll be a chili-cheese K.O."

"Try this," he said as he handed me a delicate slice of cream colored cheese. "It's called Petit Basque, made in the Basque region of France. A sheep's milk cheese that's nicely muted."

-"Your tongue's mine now, bitch."-

"Very much so, this sublime and low-key sheepiness shouldn't scare anyone away. It's definitely a beginner's sheep." It swirled around and took control of my mouth. It's a cheese that tells you to submit like a good masseuse and you do, happily.

"You'll notice that it smells of caramel, but the closer you get to the rind the salty-sweet nut flavors give way to the taste of brown butter. Now if that doesn't give your chili some flavor, a way to balance all that heat-"

"And there's a lot of it."

"-then this is what you want."

I picked up a wedge and tucked it into my basket between the bread and bag of lemons. "Well played, cheesemonger. Well played."

-Always trust your cheesemonger.-


  1. We are big fans of Petit Basque in our house...and haven't had any for quite some time! Hmmm. Might have to do something about that...

  2. This is far and away the best cheese review I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Now to get my hand on that cheese...

  3. What a review, and the cheese sounds delicious.

    Good cheese is something we miss since we emigrated from the UK, here in Canada it is much more expensive and harder to find really good cheese.

  4. Love this on its own, but it, with rustic bread, a hell of a lot of butter, and caramelized onions and fine herbs = a favorite grilled cheese. Super melter.

  5. I enjoyed that so much! Great writing, I definitely want to try that cheese.

  6. I love the captions to your photos. I still think about the pelican (You have fish for me?) one and imagine his ridiculous mexican accent and giggle. I'm trying to figure out what accent this particular cheese would have. I'm thinking WWE wrestler?

    At any rate, you made me laugh out loud yet again. And made me want to go find this crazy cheese that smells like caramel and tastes of brown butter.

  7. One of my all time favorites. It's also really great with fig jelly on a cracker. Mmmmm.

  8. is it strange to lick my computer screen at work?
    i have cheese envy. to the cheesemonger for dinner!

  9. I did it! I finally did it: I read your entire blog (during my work hours too, but hey my boss deserves it lol ;-))
    I absolutely love the way you write and went through the most hilarious situations trying to pretend I was having the occasional cough attack so my co-workers wouldn’t figure out I was bursting into tears of laughter… They now think I’m either very weird or borderline cancerous…
    So, in the end, I just wanted to congratulate you on this great blog! The recipes look really yummy. I’m from Portugal (Lisbon) so a few ingredients are rare (like rhubarb, lemon-grass, and I can’t remember the others right now) unfortunately. But I’ll definitely try some of the recipes out. I especially like the cheese reviews, being a cheese lover. If you ever come across Portuguese cheeses make sure to give them a go, ‘cause they’re very good too.
    In the mean time stay well. All the best for you, your pets, your culinary adventures and, of course, your blog.
    (Portugal, Lisbon)

  10. Bollocks! I did have a question for you that has troubled my for a while: what’s the diff between a cupcake and a muffin??? Here we don’t really have this tradition, hence my doubt. I think you may just be the perfect person to answer.
    (Portugal, Lisbon)

  11. Patricia - Thank you! Wow, what a compliment! I'm so glad you like the blog.

    Now, I think the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is how healthy it is. That's my personal gauge. Frosting usually being the major indicator.

    I will do my best to find a Portugese cheese next time. If you have a good suggestion or two I would love to hear it. =)

    Ali - Go get 'em!

  12. hummm this is one of my prefer cheese and a cheese of my region !!!

    it's a good choice !!

  13. Nicely said! This is one of my most favorite cheeses. I love introducing it to friends.


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