As a lover of Roquefort (and sheep's milk cheese in general) I happily stumbled upon two sheep's milk wedges that I'd somehow overlooked. Made by Papillon, the famous Roquefort producer, they are created from the surplus milk that does not go into Roquefort production.
The two cheeses, both made from the milk of the Lacaune ewe breed typical to the southern France region of Aveyron, could not have been more different visually – immediately offering a hint of flavours to come.
The Pérail, created in 2001, is a palm-sized wheel with a bloomy white rind – delicate and pretty – it seemed a perfect springtime choice. The Rodin is a tomme-style cheese that comes in a log shape and develops an edible golden rind sprinkled with white mould that is edible (it will get denser with age so you may or may not agree with me on that – feel free to cut it away). It has a buttery-yellow interior that darkens toward the edges and a pungent, barny aroma. "Hearty" and "lingering" are words that came to mind, perfect for taking sliced into a sandwich with some cold cuts.
The tender disc of Pérail delivered its luxurious promise with an oozy and silky interior. It had a subtle sweetness to its mild flavour and the wheel disappeared in minutes at our table. I will admit the smelly Rodin split the vote – its meaty, full flavour was overwhelming to a few people, but it was not oversalted and I appreciated its lingering flavours. I do think it would work best paired with some charcuterie and perhaps a glass of medium-bodied red wine. Or even just a cold beer.
Both cheeses are made from the surplus milk that does not go into Roquefort production and though both are pasteurized they still manage to yield complexity of flavour. (One more – much more – subtle than the other.)
In fact, if you're looking for an "in like a lamb, out like a lion" theme for your spring cheese board I think I've found a perfect pair.
Sue Riedl blogs about cheese and other edibles at cheeseandtoast.com.