“Wonderful Life” A staff trip to West Cork

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As you probably may know, we have opened our new Sheridan’s Cheesemongers counters in a couple of Dublin’s Dunnes Stores, Stephen’s Green and Rathmines, a bit before Christmas and what an amazing exciting set up. A chance to reach more people about what our company is all about, and what we are about is providing good cheese and a great personal service. With a busy set up and Christmas we didn’t have the chance to introduce the new staff to some of our cheesemakers. So Kevin gave me the job of taking some of our new staff; Emma, Philippa and William to where it all started, a land where life is good, wonderful even! “Best place to live in Ireland” I have heard in a recent study; that may well be, but if you are into artisan food in general and farmhouse cheese in particular, you may well be on to a winner here! Plus, West Cork is not only gentler when it comes to our insular climates; it is also quite easy on the eye…

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I picked up our crew in strategic Tallaght, I travelled from the most western part of Meath, cleared the M50 before 7am, straight for Saggart, Rathcoole and we were on our way, the M7, Portlaoise, the M8 and a dusting of snow on the Galty Mountains. We were heading straight for storm “Imogen” and once out of the Jack Lynch tunnel, it looks like we would reach Gubbeen Farmhouse by lunch. I understand now why people say that you are half way there when you get to the outskirts of Cork city! The N71 to the west, to Schull is as long as it is beautiful.

I parked the car in the yard and we stretched our legs. Giana Ferguson was waiting for us on the porch of the dairy with a big welcoming smile, apologising for the chaotic morning they had, a tree fell, luckily between the two buildings, the clutch of Tom’s van went “ Slán leat” and one of their wonderful staff was off sick. I was reassured to see that “Mondays” can also affect the most Western and idyllic parts of the country.

We all geared up for the legal health and safety uniform and protection and started the visit of the cheese making area, where the curd was already in moulds; quite a shock from outside, as the air was warm and humid, with the comforting smell of fresh heated milk, curds and whey… The atmosphere was jovial, with great camaraderie and elegance, careful routines repeated over and over through the years with the same patient respect…We finished the tour in the packing room, with a taste of cheese of course, questions and answers while I kept trying to capture emotions with my camera. Fingal, clearly hungry, concluded the first visit with a simple “Hackett’s for lunch”? We all jumped in the car for a quick stroll down to the local legendary pub where the blackboard invited you to everything Gubbeen, cheese, bacon, salami… You name it. Toasted Gubbeen cheese BLT for everyone! Nice. As we were about to leave, another legend walked in: “Hi Bill!” as I respectfully shook his hand a hello and good bye. Another cheesemaker I explained, he made parmesan style Desmond and Gabriel! The colourful characters of Schull…
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After visiting Fingal’s Gubbeen Farmhouse products, of smoked salami, chorizo, and bacon, experiments and things to come, we left the Farm with cheese and saucisson before heading for Durrus village, down below Mount Gabriel we climbed and descended, as the glimmering lights of this stormy day started to fade behind sheep’s head. We quickly stopped in Bantry for a spot of shopping; on the self-catering menu tonight, Sally Barnes “Woodcock” smoked tuna, brown bread, butter and lemon, followed by a Gubbeen Tartiflette, 100% Irish made! Needless to say, we slept well that night!

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Tuesday morning was much calmer; bright and early we drove up the heather road to Coomkeen, home to Durrus Farmhouse cheese where we were treated to a lovely fry, brown bread and marmalade laid by Mother and Daughter Jeffa and Sarah, my former colleague in my early years in Dublin… I couldn’t help smiling at the third generation looking at us slightly perplexed. “If you are interested, I am about to add the rennet now!” said Jeffa, with her calm and meticulous sense of organisation; we geared up again and this time, we got to see the whole process, the gentle purring of the warm vat, gently and patiently cutting the curds and where a human hand and eye remain the best judge. The curds were ready to be transferred into moulds, small and large, extra-large for the more matured to be Dunmanus… A tasting, a chat about micro-gardening, penicillium and local yeast around one last cup of tea, we headed back on a 500kms journey home toward Dublin and Meath. As we passed the last Cork roundabout, I checked my two colleagues in the rear view mirror, in Morpheus arms while my co-pilot and I discussed and shared anecdotes about the origins of a still palpable cheese revival in Ireland… And the amusing fact that we would be hitting the “Red Cow” at 5:30pm…

 

 

Story and photos by Franck Le Moenner, our Meath Retail Manager

 

Our Christmas Opening Hours

Dublin
Thur 17th and Fri 18th Dec                        10 am — 8 pm
Sat 19th Dec                                              9.30 am — 7 pm
Sun 20 st Dec                                             12 am —  6 pm
Mon 21nd to Wed 23rd Dec                       9 am —  9 pm
Christmas Eve                                            8.30 am — 4 pm
Christmas Day to Monday 28th                       Closed
Tuesday 29th Dec                                     10 am — 6 pm
Wednesday 30th Dec                               10 am — 6 pm
Thursday 31st Dec                                    10 am — 6 pm
New Year’s Day                                                Closed
Saturday 2nd Jan:                                     Open at 11.30 am

Meath:

Thursday 17th to 23rd Dec                         10 am — 6 pm
Christmas Eve                                            10 am — 4 pm
Christmas Day to Monday 28th                       Closed
Tuesday 29th Dec                                     10 am — 6 pm
Wednesday 30th Dec                               10 am — 6 pm
Thursday 31st Dec                                    10 am — 6 pm
New Year’s Day                                                Closed
Saturday 2nd Jan                                      10 am — 6 pm

 

Galway: 
Shop:

Thur 17th and Fri 18th Dec                         9 am — 8 pm
Sat 19th to Wed 23rd Decrd                       8 am — 8 pm
Christmas Eve                                             8 am — 4 pm
Christmas Day to Monday 28th                       Closed
Tuesday 29th to Wed 30th Dec                   9 am — 6 pm
Thursday 31st Dec                                       8 am — 4 pm
New Year’s Day                                                Closed
Saturday 2nd Jan                                    Regular  Sat hours 9am – 6pm

Wine Bar:

Thur 17th and Fri 18th Dec                        11 am — 11 pm
Sat 19th Dec                                                  10 am — 12 pm
Sun 20th Dec                                               4 pm – 11 pm
Mon 21st – Wed 23 rd                                10 am – 11 pm
Christmas Eve                                             10 am — 7 pm
Christmas Day to Monday 28th                       Closed
Tuesday 29th to Wed 30th Dec                10 am — 11 pm
Thursday 31st Dec                                      10 am — 7 pm
New Year’s Day                                                Closed
Saturday 2nd Jan                                    Regular  Sat hours 12 pm – 12am

 

Waterford: 

Christmas Day to Monday 28th                       Closed
New Year’s Day                                                Closed

Cheese and Christmas

The winter feast has a long history in many cultures; a time to break from the darkness and cold and the lean times, to celebrate life and plenty almost in spite of the darkness. Central to this feast has always been the preserved foods stored from the summer and autumn, kept from rotting and decay through salting, drying, smoking and pickling. One of the most ancient and most successful ways of preserving the goodness of plentiful times is cheese. A wonderful and almost magical process that turns rich nutritious fresh liquid milk from lush summer pastures into a firm food that keeps its nutritional value and can be aged and matured for months and even years. Not only of such practical use; we have developed ways to make countless delicious varieties of this miracle food.  And so cheese is central to the winter feast; in Ireland we forgot for many generations but it has returned as part of a new Christmas tradition. Maybe twenty years ago only a ‘posh’ house would have some Stilton and maybe vintage Cheddar with Port after dinner on Christmas day but now so many households have their favourite cheeses and very often their favourite Irish cheeses.

Every year I gather my favourite cheeses on the way out the door of the shop on Christmas Eve; looking forward to enjoying them after dinner the next day, I think only once did I manage to actually eat them at the Christmas dinner table, who has space after several delicious courses to start on a plate of cheese. Mostly they get brought out on Stephens’s day while watching a movie; and I have to say I love my Stephens day cheese feast!

 

Harvest Market 2015

P1040270As part of the Boyne Valley Food Series, Sheridans Cheesemongers are hosting the Harvest Festival on Saturday 5th September. We will celebrate food grown and produced within a 50 mile radius at our Virginia Road Station headquarters in Carnaross, Co. Meath,  between 10 am and 6 pm

 

Bring your excess Fruit and Veg or some jam or chutney you made with your produce. No amount too little or large; one bunch of Rhubarb or a trailer of Onions, once you grew it yourself. Come to sell, come to buy, come to swap, come for the fun.

 

 

ApplesNo charge and no fancy festival stuff, just lots of local food. Be there before 10 am if you want a stall.

 

Come along to meet the producers and taste some delicious local food.

‘’We want this small festival to celebrate the diversity and quality of food being produced on a small scale in our area and to highlight this to the community.’’
– Kevin Sheridan

 

For updates check out our Harvest Market Event on our Facebook page

Festival Applications 2016

 

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For 2016 we are changing our stall selection and application process.

Applications shall be made online. The application forms will be on our website soon so keep an eye on out for them here on our website.

 

The date for the Food Festival 2016 is penciled in for Sunday May 29th 2016.

 

Watch this space for 2016 Application Forms

PREVIOUS NATIONAL IRISH BROWN BREAD COMPETITION WINNERS

Details of all of our National Irish Brown Bread Competition winners since 2013:

NATIONAL IRISH BROWN BREAD COMPETITION WINNERS 2015

brown bread comp poster a4The 2015 overall winner Maria O’Reilly used Dunany Wholemeal Flour, Odlums Wheatgerm, Donegal Pinhead Oatmeal, and Monaghan Co-op Buttermilk

Carnaross National School TEAM 2 – won the onsite bake-off 

The judging panel were RTE’s Ella McSweeney, Seamus Sheridan and Kristin Jensen from Edible Ireland then of course, the woman who inspired the Sheridan brother’s love of brown bread, their mam Maura!

See the Full Winners List from the 2015 National Brown Bread Competition below or Download the Prize Giving Sheet 2015

Continue reading “PREVIOUS NATIONAL IRISH BROWN BREAD COMPETITION WINNERS”

Christmas Fair

We’re holding our annual Christmas Fair at our Head Quarters in Co Meath

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on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th December – 10am to 6pm.

There will be loads of local craft and food stalls as well as all of Sheridan’s Cheeses, wines hampers and great foods. It’s a fun and festive way to do your Christmas shopping in a relaxed way – we’ll have mulled wine, and music too!

Among the producers (but list by no means exhaustive!) will be Clayotic, Bakelicious, Newgrange Gold Oils, What’s for Pudding, Floods Butchers, Richard Hogan Fruit & Veg, Rogan’s Smokehouse, Boyne Valley Blue Cheese, Cole’s Home Bakery, Kilconny House Preserves, Pollock’s Pickles, Annie’s Bakery, Paul Gallagher’s Handmade Cards, Scott Cider, Moran’s Jams, Delish Donuts, Cockagee Cider, Caulfield Boards, Klara Dechant Angel Stars, Jackie Gavin, Bridget’s Mantle Scincare.

Continue reading “Christmas Fair”

Bakealicious – New addition to our Meath shop

We here in Sheridans Virginia Rd Station shop in Meath are extremely excited to welcome Eimear of Bakealicious into our shop. Bakealicious have opened a new ‘Pop-up Tearooms‘  and will offer a great selection of cakes and bakes Thursday – Friday from 12pm – 6pm and Saturday from 10am – 6pm. So why not pop by and try some of her delicious treats. I highly recommend the ‘Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie’ – all the goodness of two desserts rolled into one, delicious. And guess what? All of Eimear’s cakes and bakes are made from Organic Spelt Flour.

Continue reading “Bakealicious – New addition to our Meath shop”

From Paris with Love – Salon du Fromage

by Elisabeth Ryan

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While we focus on Irish produce for the month of March in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, let’s not forget our french and international  friends and their amazing cheeses.

Seamus Sheridan and I were lucky enough to get the chance to zip away to Salon du Fromage in Paris the last week in February  – ah Paris in the springtime! Aside from all the lovely cheeses and other cheese related exploits, the highlight of my trip was; as always when visiting Paris, the simple pleasure of drinking Coffee on the pavement outside the simplest most local and admittedly grottiest looking Café I could find (they always have the best coffee).

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Salon du Fromage is an annual trade show for cheese, and though primarily French cheese is on show, lots of our other international friends were there. Bord Bia had its first ever stand in association with a number of Irish cheesemakers; Cashel Blue, Little Milk Company, Cooleeney and Cahills. Other cheeses such as Carrigaline,Durrus, Ardrahan, St. Tola and Corleggy were also on Display along with our very own crackers and chutney!  We also had the honour of both a visit to the show from the Irish Ambassador to Paris Rory Montgomery, and then the further excitement of attending a reception in the – it must be said,  extraordinarily fancy – ambassador’s residence on the D4 esque Avenue Foch! It was all gilded mirrors and constantly refilled glasses and erm, well; cocktail sausages – yes really!

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I got the chance to sneak away from the show one of the days to visit a french cheesemonger customer of ours in North East Paris; Fromagerie Beaufils.  I proudly navigated 3 metro changes to get there, and it was worth it to see our crackers and chutney gracing their shelves, as well as a specially painted blackboard featuring Chutney Irlandaise. Christophe and Emmanuel there looked after me admirably, and I got the chance to see their maturing rooms, and came away with a mutitude of recommendations of artisan cheeses for us to source. Check out their website, and scroll down to see our featured products!

Seamus and I had the pleasure of wearing two hats for the duration of the show, as we  attended both to meet with some of our existing export clients and of course to find some new ones, as well as to met up with many of our current suppliers and with the brief of sourcing some new cheeses!

As well as many contacts made and hopefully sales leads which will come to fruition in the fullness of time, we have already acquired a new Belgian cheesemonger customer (Kaasmeester Callebaut) who have already received their first order as well as a French distributor for our chutney and crackers who will be receiving their first order in the next couple of weeks. I also had the pleasure of catching up with our UK distributors of our crackers; Neal’s Yard as well as the inimitable Will Stud from Calendar Cheese in Australia and Jason Gale the new MD – I feel an Australian business trip coming  (Kevin  and Seamus Sheridan – are you reading this, pleease can I go? !!!)

A real pleasure of the show for us and what has left me feeling so enthused was the chance to meet up with the producers whose cheese we sell. All the usual suspects were there, from our friend Giorgio Cravero, our Parmigianno affineur, a man with the sunniest personality that makes one happy immediately on being in his presence to the somewhat stern and very French Monsieur Goux from Marcel Petit Comté! We met with Luc Dongé our Brie de Meaux producer and made some adjustments to the way our wheels of brie will be selected.

I shall end upon a little story, indicative of the type of meetings had with all of our producers. At the show i arrangd to meet with Pascal Jacquin, aided by Sarah Furno from Cashel Blue as translator, and learned a little story about St. Maure de Tourain (a Loire valley, ash rinded mini goat log which we sell) Mr. Jacquin incidentally also has a special connection to Ireland, as he spends several months of each year in his house in Kenmare! I’ve always been interested in the ettiquette of the straw in the centre of St. Maure – so I asked him how they deal with it when cutting, and he told me as follows;

“First”, and here a finger was waggled strongly, to emphasis the point,”you must never cut in to the skinny end, always open at the fat end, it is impolite otherwise”

“Second”, and a dramatic demo of his words ensued, “we remove the straw with a flourish when opening the cheese” he then pointed out us that each straw has the name of the Apellation and the producer branded on it as is required by the AOC, this being the reason for such dramatic flourishing as the straw is then offered as proof to the consumer that the cheese truly is a Sainte Maure de Touraine.

As a result of our trip, we hope to also bring you some new and exciting cheeses in the near future.

A success all round – Vive la Difference!

A week in Durrus

By Natasha Acosta

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My name is Natasha and for the past month I have been an Intern in Sheridans Cheesemongers store in Galway. I came to the beautiful island of Ireland this past January to learn about Irish Culture and about its cheese. As I started in the store I was introduced to the first Irish cheeses of Ireland. One of them being a fresh milk cheese called Durrus. A raw cow’s milk cheese with a hand washed rind. As this round semi-soft cheese melts in your mouth, the flavours of creamy butter develop more and more giving a hint of acidity that lingers in your mouth much like the humble characteristics of the land where it is made.

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For a week I was offered to visit the beautiful county of Cork, on the farm of one of the first female Irish Cheese producers of the 20th Century, Jeffa Gill the maker of Durrus Cheese.  As she took me in for a week I managed to see her dairy and work along with her and her team.  Every night Ms Gill receives milk from her neighbour to produce the morning cheeses. This is different to back in the day when she would have had her milk directly from her own cows originally.

As my first morning came, Jeffa heated the milk in a copper vat and added the rennet. As I watched her keep an eye on the Ph. balance and temperature, the milk magically firmed up to a consistency almost gelatin like. I was amazed how it only took minutes to coagulate. On came the cutting process, for which Jeffa uses a beautiful Swiss cutting harp. Cutting is a serious job, a two woman job from side to side and a lot of arm strength. As the women cut pieces of curd of about 1/2 oz. each, the cutting process was done. On to putting the curds into molds where the whey would drain off by its own weight and turn into cheese. This process led to an end result of about 280 cheeses. A batch of small Durrus “Óg” meaning young in Irish, and a 4-9 week more mature Durrus in a small and large wheel.

Then came cleaning, which is very important for cheese production and you could see it in Ms Gills Dairy, impeccable. As some cleaned I had the honour of turning the cheese. I was ecstatic for this job, really any, related to the production. Hand turning cheese seems like a simple task, but one that requires skill. You tilt the cheese in your hand as you hold the mold on the other and flip the cheese back into the mold. This keeps draining the weigh from the cheese and give it’s nice round shape. That would be done three times and a fourth held later at night. I would say turning is a very important part of cheesemaking, it allows proper drying of the cheese and air circulation. Consequently turning would be done through all the cheese process into the selling.

For the second day the previous days’ cheese where taken out of the mold and left to mature. While another day of cheese making took place. By now I felt like a pro with some experience. I could anticipate what was to be done next.

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For my third morning I got to brine the cheese where they are put in brine for 2 to 5 hours depending of the size and desired maturity of the cheese. Brine is basically a bath of salt and water, for added taste and limiting bacteria growth.

For the fourth day the brining was done for the second batch of made cheese while the first batch would be washed in a brine solution that would begin to develop the nice pinkish color on the rind. For my fifth morning came the curing of the cheese. Where it seems like a spa for the cheese to maintain the humidity, appearance and sanitation. While watching out for any particular development that happened through the last 4 days, this being molds, or bruises. The cheese is taken in one hand and with an exfoliating glove scrubbed. Here it will remain in the curing room, being turned each day for a couple of weeks, until it reaches its maturity and gets packed and sold.

While cheese was being made on my fifth day I managed to escape to see the making of Sheridan’s crackers. That lovely cheese companion, ranging from linseed to mixed flavours. The warehouse was about an hour from Durrus Village in a village called Lissavaird in West Cork. This small artisanal warehouse had ten employees, consisting of two shifts. As I arrived at 10:30 in the morning, greeted by the first shift bakers responsible for Sheridans crackers. These bakers had been in from 5:30 am in the morning; around the schedule time the batter is made. Around 10:30am they where in their second batch of cookies. After the preparation of the cracker dough, it gets separated, measured and rolled by hand into a 450g log. This l og is then laid into a dough sheeter into about a milimeter thick. It is rolled about 4 times each to get the desired thickness. After it is carried to a baking sheet to be cut by hand into small rectangular crackers, removing any disfigured crackers. Afterward they are placed in a 12-row trolley to be baked in a closet size industrial oven for around 20 to 25 min. After baking the crackers are to be packed and sealed. What I thought to be done by machine was a very artisanal part of the production. Packing the crackers into little plastic trays is done manually while weighing each tray to 120g to be exact. My job came to an end here. What was missing was the plastic wrap and seal, done through a machine held by another employee. As I left I thank them all for a wonderful day and left happy to understand the crackers are very much artisanal, nonetheless they seem perfect every time.

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After my day in the crackers warehouse I returned to the lovely Durrus village where I would say goodbye to the whole production of cheese, including Jeffa’s warmth. I travelled back to Galway with a head full of knowledge, a story of cheese making, the fresh Durrus and its beautiful landscapes. With this experience I get to share more with the customers at the store and I manage to transport myself both to Durrus and the crackers every time I have them.

Wine of the Month – December

By Enrico Fantasia

Rosso Piceno “di Gino” 2010 FATTORIA SAN LORENZO

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Genius: an exceptionally intelligent person or one with exceptional skill in a particular area of activity.

If we agree with the definition of genius given by the Oxford Dictionary then Natalino Crognaletti, the driving force behind Fattoria San Lorenzo, is definitely a genius.

He has no particular secrets to craft his unique wines, but lot of very personal and sometimes extreme ideas. So extreme that every time I spend few days with him I always leave with the same doubt: either I know much less about wine than I think, or he is gloriously messing me around telling me bizarre stories….

Biodynamic ante-litteram as this is how they always did it since his great grandfather started growing grapes: take a walk in the vineyard with Natalino and you’ll be amazed by the incredible amount of ladybirds, butterflies and bees “working” with him. And if you compare with the desolate “death valley” landscape of the neighboring chemical-sprayed vineyards, the difference is striking.

The farm is also self-sufficient and pretty much everything they need is home grown or produced (they basically buy only flour, sugar and coffee).

It’s difficult for me to pick a favourite from the vast range of wines Natalino produces, but the Rosso Piceno “di Gino” is consistently one of the best reds he makes, and possibly one of the best value for money I ever found.

A blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese in a 60:40 ratio mainly aged in steel vats (only 10% of the wine sees oak, just to soften a bit the natural acidity of the two grapes and to add a extra layer of complexity), this wine is rich, deep, funky, complex, ripe but never overpowering. It’s also full of black cherries, red fruit, spices, liquorice and tobacco. And just in case you were wondering, it is age-worthy and at the same time has that sort of please-give-me-another-sip drinking feel that I know you like.

Anything else you need to know about it? No.

So, get it now! You’ll make your turkey happy this Christmas…

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