Sunday, April 10, 2016

Last Half of the Week in the Bearn

          Thursday morning, 3 of us drove south in the direction of the Pyrenees and Spain to find the market in the small town of Bedous, in the Aspe Valley. The market was small, but excellent, with just about everything we needed for dinner. Also in the town were several shops run by cheese producers. Ossau-Iraty, an AOC sheep cheese, is produced throughout the area, as are non-AOC cow and sheep cheeses, We stopped into a shop run by the Ferme Miramon, which makes cow and sheep cheese, and tasted both their young and aged sheep cheese. They were both outstanding, and we bought a large wedge of the aged cheese. We then took a walk through the village before heading back to our gite for lunch.

                                SOME VIEWS IN BEDOUS

             In the afternoon, Ann and I headed off to visit some small cheese producers. At the first stop, La Ferme Frady, the farm produced only goat cheese, and we tried several. The cheeses were incredibly good, and we bought a couple of varieties. We then drove to the tiny village of Saint Colome, which the woman at La Ferme Frady had said was a good example of a typical local village. It was quite charming, and we made a brief stop to look into the church in the center. We then went to La Ferme Guedot, a farm that makes goat and sheep cheese, and we bought a wedge of each.

Ossau-Iraty Cheese Producers

On Friday, our last full day in the Bearn region, Ann and I headed back to Borce, in the Aspe Valley, to go to the Parc d'Ours, a wildlife park that keeps animals that have been abandoned, mistreated or injured. The park was at a very high altitude, with amazing views of the mountains, the town and the valley below. In addition to familiar animals such as goats and sheep, there were many animals you don't see in the northeast United States, such as sanglier (wild boar), bighorn sheep, and a type of small brown bear (Ours, hence the name of the park). The park was quite large, and the animals had plenty of space to roam.

After leaving the park we drove to several small villages in the Aspe Valley, including Etsaut, Lascuns, and Aydius. We strolled around each village, admiring the old houses and the views. We had been told that there was a goat cheese producer in Aydius, and while we found a back road where there were 3 producers, no one was around.

                              ASPE VALLEY VILLAGES

       From the Aspe Valley, we then drove back towards the Ossau Valley, where our gite was located. We decided to take the route over the mountain pass, and as we climbed up the mountain, it got colder and colder, and there was snow on the side of the road. The pass was part of the Route de Ossau-Iraty, and on the route we saw a sign for an Ossau-Iraty cheese producer. We drove to the farm and bought a wedge of their outstanding sheep cheese, and also wound up buying slippers that were lined with wool from their sheep. We then continued our drive through the pass and to the Ossau Valley and back to our gite.  We made a very brief stop in the village of Bielle on the way, and while we were sitting in our car, a troop of sheep paraded through the streets of the village, probably heading from the fields back to their farm.

Ossau-Iraty Producer and their Sheep

Sheep Trouping Through Bielle

       That night we all had dinner at Le Tucq, a restaurant just down the road from our gite. Dinner was excellent, and the co-owner waitress was incredibly welcoming and funny. I did the ordering of the wines, and when I saw they had wines from Domaine Lapeyre et Guilhemas on the list, I ordered a bottle of their red and a bottle of their rose. I had hoped to visit that producer, but although we briefly visited Salies de Bearn, where they're located, we never made it. They make wines from the Bearn appellation, which includes red and roses, wines that are excluded from the Jurancon AOC. The wines were superb, particularly the red, which was a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a truly enjoyable end to our week in the Bearn.
Dinner at Le Tucq

1 comment:

  1. Big rounds of cheese and rescued animals? Sounds like my idea of heaven!