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Oct 9, 2013 02:43 PM

P'tit Basque - thoughts?

I am a sheep's milk cheese fanatic with Ossau Iraty being my favorite. I just recently ran into P'tit Basque. It's a more recent addition to the Basque sheep's milk group, but seems worthy of a taste. I found a few threads here on related topics, but thought I'd see if anyone had any thoughts on this cheese.

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  1. I'm a sheep's milk cheese fanatic as well, and I personally find the P'tit Basque to be less interesting (and delicious) than the Ossau Iraty. JMHO.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      This was my thought on the Verano I tried last week and similarly with Idiazabal. I can't seem to find a sheep's milk that's as delicious as the wonderful Ossau. It's usually always in the fridge, except now since I ate the last piece yesterday. My local cheesemonger thinks their current Ossau isn't as great as usual so perhaps I'll try the P'tit Basque while I await the Ossau to improve.

    2. I had some last year, and gave it a two thumbs up in my notes.
      Smooth and nutty.

      (It was sold as Petit Basque - no apostrophe!) Is that the same?)

      9 Replies
        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Istara is the name of a producer of both P'tit Basque and Ossau Iraty. Many shops sell *Ossau Iraty* as "Istara" I'm guessing because the name is so difficult to spell and intimidating to pronounce. In fact, if you look at the labels for the two cheeses, "Istara" is much more prominent (in large letters in the center) on the Ossau Iraty label than the P'tit Basque label (at the top, in smaller letters).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Oh wow, look at that! I saw the P'tit Basque at Wegmans, though I've never seen Ossau there. The label looked like the real P'tit Basque label so perhaps they also have Ossau which is interesting since Whole Foods and my dedicated go to real cheesemonger seem to have have Ossau but not P'tit.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              l may have this wrong but believe the original cheese was its own company called Petit Basque and made a dandy little sheepsmilk cheese. Our government, in its divine wisdom discovered an antifungal spray on the cheese which had a very thin wax coating that they felt was dangerous to our health in the event you ate the wax so it was prohibited from coming into the USA. This was 5-10 years ago. to fill the gap Istara a maker of Pyrenees sheepsmilk cheeses started making a non-wax product named P'Tit Basque, end of story. the old one was better as aged great and got quite smooshy if kept long enough, but P'Tit Basque is the same cheese as Istara but in smaller size.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I think you misspoke in that last sentence.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  In what way ?
                  l meant to say P'tit Basque is a smaller Istara, and l thought l did.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    But as both you and I have noted, iStara is not a cheese, it's a producer/brand name. So it can't be "a smaller iStara." Maybe you meant P'tit Basque is iStara's smaller version of the original Petite Basque?

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      No, Istara is the leading maker of factory sheepsmilk cheese in the Pyrenees. And in this case factory is not a bad thing. It used to be called Prince de Claverolle and around 15-20 years ago was changed to Istara. Now Istara, Capitoul, and Etorki are the three large factories in that area and Istara sells way more product as the big one than the p'tit. the large one is the same size as most other Ossau-Iraty, When it was first out they could not call it Ossau-Iraty as it was not AOC as pasteurized. with the effect of the EU on many cheeses, now pasteurized is OK for AOC and Istara has become Istara Ossau-Iraty.
                      Their label has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, before that Ossau-Iraty was not even on the label.
                      l think we are saying the same thing but that is sort of the history of Istara, now a brand but previously a cheese..

        2. I love it (and have also seen it as Petit Basque).

          1. Thanks for all the info, I picked up the P'tit Basque yesterday and it's really really good. I actually also bought Ossau Iraty yesterday and it must be the wheel, but the cheese I have is not particulary flavorful at all with barely any of the rich flavor I'm used to with Ossau. So, the P'tit Basque has been a nice cheese to have around since I always need some sheep's milk cheese around :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              There are 100 makers of Ossau -Itraty, if you want the same get Istara or even Capitoul.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Hello! Scary as it might seem Trader Joes now has a p'tit basque cheese...looks and tastes like the original round p'tit basque, they sell half rounds, at, if I remember $13.00 to $14.00 a pound.

                1. re: t14072

                  Costco had them for a while at that price.
                  Get a bunch, they last for quite a while.
                  In Paris a whole one costs about 14 euros or $ 18-19

            2. This is currently my favorite sheep's milk cheese of the moment. I'm glad to know it keeps well.