Jean Faup Bethmale

Cheese image: Jean Faup Bethmale (Goats' milk)

Cheese image: Jean Faup Bethmale (Goats' milk)Jean Faup Bethmale (Goats’ Milk)

Bethmale is undoubtedly the most typical cheese from the French region just East of the Pyrénées. Originating from the mountain of the “Pays de Couseran” in the Ariège close to the Spanish border, it derives its name from the Bethmale Valley where it was produced. When King Louis VI passed through the region in the 12th century he reportedly became its most famous fan.

Bethmale is a rustic, semi-hard cheese with earthy mushroom aromas and a farmyard resonance. The rind is washed, giving it a rosy glow and the paste is semi-hard with tiny pinholes.

On the palate the cheese is is truly unique, offering a zingy tingle on the tongue but with an overall sensation that is mellow and nutty. The texture of Bethmale is semisoft, supple and yielding. The interior paste varies from ivory-white to buttery-yellow depending on the milk and the season, and is dotted with small holes and slits. Aromas are pleasantly pungent, smelling of damp cellar and earth. Flavors are mild, very rich, milky and buttery with notes of grass, wood and mushrooms.

Bethmale is made from both Cows’ milk and goats’ milk. Those made from cows’ milk are rich and creamy while Bethmale made from goats’ milk (like this one) has a lovely floral flavor with a nutty accompaniment.

At one time these cheeses were rarely available outside their region but are now available in the US.