Take a peek into one of the cheese producers which belong to Artzai Gazta - a Basque Country cooperative that produce idiazabal, a unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese.
This particular producer is called Baztarrika and it’s an hour west of San Sebastián.
Here’s the owner and his smoker. He lives on the farm with his wife…
….and this little boy. It’s a family business with the in-laws also living on the farm.
For restaurants they age cheese according to chef specifications. Baztarrika supplies cheese to Arzak (neat!) and they want it aged for exactly 8 months. So even if you buy cheese from Baztarrika, it won’t taste exactly like what you ate at Arzak.
So many sheep…one was ready to give birth. This specific breed is known for being “ugly” (as far as sheep are concerned), but producing plenty of milk.
From left to right: fresh, aged, and smoked (my favorite). So good with a bit of quince paste on baguette.
And this product which they call “cheese cream.” It’s not so much cream, but a thick spread made from old idiazabal that’s chopped and cooked down with fresh cream from the farm. They tried to sell this to Fairway in NYC, but the cheese buyer said it was too pungent for American tastes. Crazy. I made sure to eat my share before leaving ;)