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REGIONAL PRODUCE:  CHEESES

Fromage / Formatge / Queso
The Ariège département of France, just north of Andorra, offers a wide range of strong ‘fromages des Pyrénées’. Goat's and sheep cheeses predominate in these high altitude regions, the terrain being too rough to support large herds of cows. The Cadi co-operative based in La Seu d'Urgell, just south of the Andorran border, is a notable local Spanish dairy producer.

The following are a selection of the best regional varieties:
Bethmale & Bamalou  Two of the best-known local French cow's-milk cheeses; made near Foix, Ariège.

Cabrioulet & Cabécou  Goat's milk cheeses from the same area as above.

Montsec  From Lleida province in Catalunya. Made from goat's milk and quite similar to Camembert.

Other local French offerings include:  Palomières from the spa/ski resort of Bagnères further west; and Pic de la Calabasse, Moulis and Rogalais from slightly further afield in the Midi-Pyrénées.

Roquefort  The most famous regional speciality cheese, from the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, north-east of Toulouse. A full-fat, unpasteurised and unhomogenised ewe's-milk soft blue cheese, matured in ancient caves and underground cellars in Roquefort for at least three months.
It features on Andorran menus in sauce for steaks and, most usually, crumbled over chicory salads.

Tupi  Definitely the most distinctive Catalan cheese:  sold in jars, it is basically a Vall d'Aran type cheese (see below), but matured in a wooden container along with garlic and aiguardent  spirit;  delicious, but somewhat of an acquired taste.

Urgellet & Serrat  Two other local Catalan offerings, the latter being an ewe's milk variety.

Vall d'Aran  A smokey cow's-milk cheese; the best known local Spanish speciality.

REGIONAL PRODUCE:  CURED MEATS

Larder Staples
Ham (called pernil  in Catalan) and cured sausages are staples of the Pyrenean diet because they are an excellent way to preserve meat for the long winters.
Many older Andorran homes have an airy natural cold store in the basement for hanging hams and cured meats.

The most popular ham is the famous Jamón Serrano, a cured mountain ham, similar to Parma ham;  salted, dry-cured, and served in wafer-thin slices as a tapa, or topping the almost ubiquitous appetiser pa amb tomàquet.

As for cured sausages, there appear to be as many varieties produced throughout Catalunya as there are choices of cheese in France. They are eaten cold as tapas and in salads, added to reinforce stews, or simply grilled. The most popular include:
Botifarra  An almost generic name for large Bratwürst-like pork sausages;  usually ‘white’ pork, simply flavoured with salt and pepper.

Botifarra de Cérvol  Venison sausage.
(Not to be confused with botifarra de cervell, which is made with pig's brains).

Botifarra Negra  Similar to ‘black pudding’.

Bull de Llengua  Boiled tongue sausage.

Chorizo  Ubiquitous, spicy Spanish salami flavoured with garlic, chilli and spices.

Llonganissa  A long, firm, fine-textured salami. The best come from the Catalan mountain town of Vic and have been awarded the prized Denominación de Calidad quality guarantee.

Salchichón  Salami of very lean pork flavoured with paprika, salt and pepper and hung to cure for over four months.

Saucisse de Toulouse  Famous sausage which bears a ‘Red Label’ guarantee, similar to an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, awarded to the most important regional French products.
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