Ossau-Iraty is one of the world's ancient cheeses, and is named for two rivers in the mountainous Basque region of the French Pyrenees where it's produced. This pale sheep's milk cheese from producer Istara has a distinctively semi-firm texture, with a resilient but creamy chew. It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor, tinted with hazelnuts and the fruitiness of ripe olives, that makes it a versatile cheese as an hors d'oeuvre or post-meal feature. Pair it with rustic red wines, and accompaniments like ripe tomatoes, salsa, hard salami or spicy pickles.
Istara Ossau-Iraty costs $14.99 a pound at Wegman's, Route 70 West, Cherry Hill, 856-488-2700.