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Centerfold: Esquirrou, a Miniature Cheese With Big Flavor

While it’s a mini version of Ossau Iraty PDO, there’s nothing minute about Esquirrou’s flavor—just ask the judges at the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, who named it World Champion out of 3,402 entries from 26 countries. The wheel’s PDO requires that it be made according to certain regulations, including using sheep’s milk sourced from farms within a 50-mile radius of the French Basque creamery. Firm, nutty, and smooth, approachable Esquirrou is perfect for holiday platters. Sip a glass of red Bordeaux or Bergerac alongside a slice for a true taste of southwestern France.  

Fun Facts:

  • Aged at least six months, the ivory paste boasts notes of roasted nuts and toasted wheat.
  • Esquirrou means “bell” in a local Basque dialect, a nod to the sheep’s accessories.
  • Since it’s difficult for sheep to breed year-round, Esquirrou is only made from November to July.


Photography by Beryl Striewski

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's former editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.

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