Pérail des Cabasses
From time to time we head in the direction of the Massif Central to take in the sights in the Aveyron. But even when we can't get away, I can take in a bit of the gorgeous scenery in the form of a cheese called the Pérail des Cabasses. In the warm months, Rosine and Jean-François Dombre’s 600 milking ewes are pastured in the wind and sun at an altitude of 850m on fields of wild grass & flowers pushing through on the high plateaus there. They produce this cheese à la louche, which means scooping the curds by hand with a ladle into moulds, and turning it by hand during the 12 days before going to maket, respecting ancestral methods. Fromageres all over France and also abroad apply their own affinage methods to this cheese, so the expertise and loving care with which your fromagere treats this cheese will have an effect on your final experience. In speaking briefly to M. Dombre this afternoon on the telephone, his kind soft spoken farmer's way melded in a certain way right through the line as a warm contrast into this afternoon's cool city light. On tasting a wedge and allowing the brief bristling flavor of the ewe's cheese crust to melt through to a gorgeous depth of pastroral finish, I was reminded that I can have a soft gentle creamy mountain summer day encapsulated into 150 perfect grams from the limestone plains of the Aveyron 190 miles southwest of Lyon, even when big raindrops fall. Thank you, M. Dombre.
Update: M. Dombre has left me a message that he sells his cheese in England to Neal's Yard Dairy in London. Before you make a trip, call to see if they have it in stock.
For American and Canadian cheese lovers, a pérail de brebis, which is the same type cheese, but perhaps produced by a different creamery, which is aged for the requisite 60 days to meet US cheese import regulations, can be purchased online here.
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