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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Barèges-Gavarnie Mutton is a Rare and Tasty Change From the Many Excellent Lamb Offerings of France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The Mouton Barèges -Gavarnie AOC  
Mouton Barèges-Gavarnie AOP – The sheep, the mutton, not the lamb, rate an AOP label for their consistently superior meat. This very special mutton will be on restaurant menus from June through January. The menu may offer a roast from a doubloon, a two-year-old male; that is considered the best of the breed.  Alternatively, another menu may offer a winter stew prepared from a two-year-old ewe.  There are excellent lambs in France, but good mutton has a very different taste and texture. The Mouton Barèges - Gavarnie sheep, are not old tough, fatty rams, they have tasty, tender, meat.  Mutton in France is the Mouton Barèges -Gavarnie AOP  

The Official Logo of The Mouton Barèges -Gavarnie AOP.

Mouton Barèges-Gavarnie on the menu:

Brochette de Mouton Barèges Gavarnie à la Réglisse, Choux Vert et Châtaigne des Pyrénées – Skewers of the Barèges-Gavarnie mutton flavored with liquorice served with cabbage and chestnuts from the Pyrenees.
Côtelettes de Mouton AOC Barèges-Gavarnie à la Crème de Serpolet- Chops from the Barèges Gavarnie mutton flavored with a cream of wild thyme sauce.
Navarin de Mouton Baréges-Gavarnie Printanier Navarin - A springtime stew of Baréges-Gavarnie mutton cut into regular shapes; along with other young vegetable and nearly always including young turnips. The navette, a turnip, is considered the source of the name navarin, a turnip stew.  The Navatin becomes a Navarin Printanier, a springtime stew when made with young spring turnips and other early vegetables
Civet de Mouton AOC Barèges-Gavarnie –  A slowly cooked stew from the Barèges-Gavarnie mutton.  A stew like this will be cooked with vegetables and a red wine. Civet were originally traditional stews associated with small wild game; that meant a lapin, a rabbit, or a lièvre, a hare, and occasionally a marcassin, a young wild boar.  Now the term civet is used for many other stews like this menu listing.
The Mouton Barèges –Gavarnie sheep are brought to their mountain pastures, in the area called the Pays Toy, in the department of the Hautes-Pyrénées, in the late spring. All the pastures here are over the 1,000-meter level, and as the summer grows warmer, the sheep go higher. 

The sheep heading for higher pastures.
In the high pastures, these sheep have total freedom; not even a shepherd to watch out for them except maybe once every ten days.  Since writing this, I have been told that the tradition of permanent shepherds and sheep dogs is returning, as the wild animal protection laws have seen the local bear population increasing.  By November, the sheep are back in covered shelter in the valleys and feed on hay that comes from the same pastures.

There is, of course, a fete for the Mouton Barèges-Gavarnie.  In the last couple of years there have been fetes in June, July and October, so check with the Tourist Information Office website below.  This is not just a fete where the children can pet the sheep; this is also a chance to taste and enjoy, and then everyone can enjoy watching sheepdog trials and competitions.
For the Tourist Information Office and the June 2016 Fete to be held in the village of Tournaboup click here.
The same website has information on the highest spa in France, where the Barèges waters, a constant 42 °C, (107.6 ° F) are known for their help with bone reconstruction, rheumatism, and respiratory system.  The spa has been known since the beginning of the 17th century and is the highest in the Pyrenees. It is even more famous for the ski resort of Barèges, one of the largest skiing centers in the region of the Midi-Pyrénées.
The English language website of Gavarnie Tourist Information office:
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Bryan G Newman
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For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman