Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Fromage de bredbis fermier
At the age of 35, Maxium Boucaud decided to change his profession in the field of dentistry to sheep farming. Later, he discovered that his grandfather was a brebis fermier, a sheep breeder.
Home for his 42 sheep, Le Tuc, which means the top in the local dialect, is situated 70 kilometers north of Toulouse in Vazerac. I met Maxium at the farmers' market in Toulouse and he brought me to his farm for the weekend to observe his operation. He produces two types of sheep cheese, a tome de brebis and lactiquer, and at times, ricotta and yogurt. The tome de brebis is a 3 month aged cheese, whereas the lactiquer is ready in one week. At this time, his sheep are milked morning and evening and yield about 40 liters of milk. Processed daily at varying temperatures and humidity, Maxium has an adroit feel for when the cheese is ready to move to the next process and has a special eye for the right amount of salt. Maxium's friend Jerome impressed me how quickly he worked the 42 sheep through the milking process. Milking begins in mid-February and will go into September. Maxium allows his sheep to mature to two years of age before milking, where commercial breeders begin at less than a year old. Not only is Maxium's cheese heavenly but so is his cooking (picture). He prepared a locally grown chicken, with handmade pasta from the market. Much of his produce, breads, meats, and pasta comes from trading with other vendors at the organic market in Toulouse.
I was lucky to arrive on the weekend that the neighboring farmers had a festival celebrating the summer solstice. Under a full moon, a traditional fire was lit and local foods, wines, and music was served to all as the beautiful spirit of community flooded the vast countryside.