The Lozère is a wild and isolated department of the Languedoc-Roussillon which encompasses rugged mountains, vast meadows, deep gorges and limestone caves. Its human population is the lowest in France, leaving plenty of wide open spaces for the cows and sheep to graze.
It is home to several well known French cheeses such as Laguiole, Tomme de Lozère, Pélardon, and blue cheeses such as Bleu des Causses, Bleu d'Auvergne and Roquefort.
My most recent cheese discovery from the Lozère is another blue veined cheese called le Petit Risso. It is produced at the farm, La laiterie Rissoan, a small scale producer of cow's milk and sheep's milk cheeses since 1948.
Don't let that blue veining fool you. This is not Roquefort!
Le Petit Risso is soft and mild with slightly salty, grassy and tangy flavors. Its texture is dense, rich, quite buttery and chewy, and the rind is hard, but totally edible.
The cow's milk used to make this cheese is lait thermisé - heated at a lower temperature than pasteurized milk so that harmful bacteria are killed but flavorful enzymes remain.
Lait cru - never heated above 40°C
Lait thermisé - heated at 45°C for 30 minutes or 72°C for 1 second
Lait pasteurisé - heated at 63°C for 30 minutes or 72°C for at least 15 seconds
While I didn't fall head over heels in love with le Petit Risso, I would absolutely recommend it if you like mild blue cheeses.
It pairs best with some dry, fruity white wine or a dry rosé.