Petit Ardi Gasna: An Everyday Sheep Cheese
February 19, 2011
Petit Ardi Gasna is a lovely everyday cheese. It is easy to eat, smooth on the palate and offers perfectly balanced flavors. Ardi Gasna looks rather boring at the cheese counter, but we found it addictive on the plate.
Ardi Gasna is a semi-firm cheese from the Basque region in France. It is made with raw sheep’s milk by Fromagerie Agour
and has earned several awards. The cheese is produced in small 700-gram drums (about 1.5 pounds), and is brushed with coulis de Piment d’Espelette, a puree of espelette chili peppers dry-rubbed with pimenton, a Spanish paprika. Cheeses are aged for a minimum of 3 months before market.
Ardi Gasna’s chili red rind gives it a fiery appearance. The natural red-orange rind is thin, dry and scored with lines from its production. The interior paste is dull yellow and has a greenish cast. At the rind, the paste darkens into a light walnut. To the touch, the paste is solid and greasy.
Ardi Gasna’s rind smells like toasted nuts. The interior paste has light scents of blueberries and rye.
Ardi Gasna has well-balanced flavor. It has a sweet berry fruitiness that is matched by a rich nutty flavor. The flavors are not too assertive and seem “just right.” Ardi Gasna leaves a mildly nutty aftertaste in the mouth. The cheese has a chewy texture that is not overly rich. When eaten, the rind adds some spicy hotness to the cheese, but its grittiness is detracting.
We all liked this cheese and it was a big hit with my kids. Ardi Gasna makes an excellent snacking cheese. Its flavors and texture are so pleasing that this cheese was hard to stop eating. While Ardi Gasna offers the casual simplicity of an everyday cheese, it would make a good addition to an outdoor meal.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Petit Ardi Gasna from Say Cheese (San Francisco); it was sold as Petit Agour.