País Vasco, Spain
Etxegarai Larrun Gazta
Made by the same producer as our DOP Idiazabal, Etxegarai is a smoked raw sheep's milk cheese aged 6 months. Larrun is a mountain in the Pyrenees on the border of Spain and France, and gazta means cheese in the Basque language. The name Etxegarai refers to the old farmhouses located high up in the mountains of the Basque country. Shepherds used to store cheese near their nighttime fires, giving the wheels their characteristic smoky flavor. Larrun Gazta carries on this tradition by smoking their cheese over Hawthorne and Cherry woods, with no added preservatives or flavors. It is very similar in style to Idiazabal but is not regulated by the D.O.P. Often the milk is a mix of that of the Latxa and Assaf sheep, making for a less expensive alternative to Idiazabal that is still full of flavor. It is lightly sharp and fruity with a pronounced sheepy flavor and mild aromas of smoke. This versatile cheese can be used on pastas, salads, sandwiches and other preparations.