Ardi-Gasna is a raw ewe’s milk cheese originating from the valleys of Nive, Arnegux-Esterençuby and Aldudes, in the Basque Country. Etymologically, ‘Ardi’ means ewe and ‘gasna’ means cheese in the Basque language. This cheese is semi-hard, pressed and uncooked. It is covered in a natural, yellow/orange rind, speckled with mould. It is in the shape of a wheel, with a convex heel with a diameter of 30 to 35cm and a thickness of 6 to 8cm. It weighs between 4 and 5kg. The rind is heated with embers to smoothen it, and is coated in a layer of sheep fat to conserve the cheese.
This cheese is was mostly consumed locally, until, in the 1980s the cheese was commercialised in the surrounding regions., and since then the cheese has been appreciated by gastronomes. With time, around 5 months, the cheese takes on its character and its piquancy. It can be grated and used in dishes, eaten as a snack or at the end of a meal accompanied by black cherry jam, chilli jelly or honey. It can be eaten throughout the year, but is at its best in spring and summer, when it has developed its flavours to the fullest, and is very fragrant.
Exterior of the Asni-Gasna cheese: straw yellow to yellow/grey coloured rind
Odour of the Asni-Gasna cheese: light odour of the farm barn
Texture of the Asni-Gasna cheese: firm with suppleness
Taste of the Asni-Gasna cheese: nutty with a slight piquancy, which increases in intensity with age.