Sunday, May 15, 2005

Reportage: Rob and Tamasin in the French Pyrenees

A couple of weeks ago some friends invited us to their summer home in Gascony, near the town of Pau, about an hour from the French Pyrenees. This is a region famous for its' ducks, including foie gras, and brebis, the sheep's milk cheese that some claim is the oldest continuously made cheese of all, about four thousand years and counting. This paragraph just in from Tamasin Day-Lewis, who describes the market scene that morning:

Montfaucon, Tuesday morning market time, and there are plump spears of albino white local asparagus piled high, three cheese stalls, a couple of charcutiers, the first of the season's artichokes, with their violet tinged spiny leaves, early broad beans, grainy croissants that break like glass with flakiness when you eat them and boules of local walnut bread. The St Marcellin comes in great white frisbees triple the size of the ones I normally see and are as yielding to the touch as you could wish for. The tommes are made with cow's milk but there is a more ivory, lactic version half cow, half goat. Rob and I sniff out the best of the three stalls and within minutes have an invitation next time we are attempting the snowy peaks -the Pyrenees are an hour and a half away and we have just passed the endurance test of a 5 hour climb the previous day sustained by black Russian rye bread I have brought over from England with coffee, caraway and chocolate baked into its resinous depths and a shocking amount of wild Irish smoked salmon stuffed between its crusts.The cheese stall owner says his wife, mother and grandmother make his goat's cheeses and he comes down from the mountains to sell them. They have that tangy fresh lemony taste that the best fresh goat's cheese has, and he says his goats are black faced and live on the Atlantic coast side of the Pyrenees. We'll have to go back.

More photos from the trip: