ST MARTINVILLE, LOUISIANA (WGNO) — Flavor is part of the landscape of Louisiana’s love language. In the steady countryside of St Martinville, Louisiana lives Wanda Barras, the owner of Belle Ècorce Farms. Wanda is the cultured, gourmet-cheesemaking woman of South Louisiana.
Back in 1999, Wanda was a breeder of exotic parrots and renowned for it. One day, she accompanied her friend on a trip to Mississippi. She returned home with two pet goats.
Over the years, two goats became 150 and she needed to find use for the surplus of farm fresh milk they were producing.
“I realized I had all this milk. I wasn’t sure what it was going to taste like. Goat milk was not going to taste like cows milk and I was raised on fresh cow’s milk. Once I tasted it, I realized how good it was when it was fresh like that. I am naturally a creative person. I paint, and played the clarinet in school. I used my creativity for a solution on what to do with the goat milk. I experimented a little bit with soap and then I started experimenting with the cheese,” recalls Wanda Barras.
Today, Wanda still owns some of the parrots she once bred, along with cows, chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, pigs, and miniature horses. The old parrot aviary is long-transformed into a homestead facility that is efficient for gourmet cheese production.
“We made some Chevre cheese last night. It was pasteurized, cooled down, with the cultures and the rennet added to it. It’s in a cotton cheese cloth and the whey is coming off of it, and we will have cream cheese after it hangs,” explains Wanda Barras.
Wanda and her family are well-traveled and she uses her influence from living in Italy, her farm living in Louisiana and her artistic background to create masterful and flavorful cheese, that include: cream cheese, fetta, Chevre and gouda, among others.
Whether she is making a fresh milk cheese that is ready to be sold in a few days or an aged cheese that takes a few years, it all begins with fresh milk from her goats and cows.
Wanda knows that goats milk has unique properties, saying, “goat milk is naturally homogenized, that is why it is easier to digest. There are smaller fat particles. That is why goat’s milk is good for sick people and babies. It’s a universal milk.”
Once the cheese is made, she seasons and decorates it with spices and herbs and edible flowers, as the cheese becomes a display of the land and part of the fruit of Louisiana’s flavor.
You can check out Belle Ècorce Farms by clicking here. To get a taste of Wanda’s amazing gourmet cheeses, she has a booth set up at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market, every Saturday morning. If you are in the St Martinville, Lafayette area, you can visit her farm store at 6939 Main Hwy # C, St Martinville, LA 70582.