The monks of the Abbey of Notre Dame de Belloc are thought to be the creators of ewe’s milk cheeses of the Basque country in the 17th Century. Situated close to the sea and the foothills of the Pyrenees, the Belloc Abbey profits from an oceanic climate which has allowed for a pastoral civilisation for centuries.
The Abbaye de Belloc is a French ewe’s milk cheese. It is a semi-hard, pressed, uncooked cheese made from raw, whole ewe’s milk. Belloc is made in Bearn and the Basque Country. The fabrication process is artisanal and is done in a monastery.
The abbey has worked in agriculture for centuries, adapting its production to the necessities of the market. Today, the monks develop their economy by maturing and commercialising ewe’s milk cheeses, illustrating texts, and with their bookshop specialising in religious texts.
This balance between prayer and work is what authentic life is like in a monastery.
There is a real sense of community in the life of a monastery, like that of the first Christians. Today, the community of Belloc is made up of thirty-odd monks.
Belloc cheese is in the shape of a flattened wheel, with convex sides. It has a diameter of 35cm and a thickness of 8cm, and weighs 5kg.
Belloc is matured for 3 months in a cool, humid cheese cellar where it is washed and scrubbed.
It has a supple pate, a fruity flavour and a bloomy rind. This cheese has specific characteristics that makes it what it is.
Characteristics of the Abbaye de Belloc cheese: smooth, golden rind
Odour of the Abbaye de Belloc cheese: practically no odour
Texture of the Abbaye de Belloc cheese: firm with elasticity
Taste of the Abbaye de Belloc cheese: Nutty flavour, with an ovine characteristic. Flavour reminiscent of caramelised brown sugar.