Cheese of the Month – January

by Kevin Sheridan

1604616_571862249573224_325326369_n

Firstly I hope you all had a great Christmas and enjoyed some lovely food including some good cheeses; I am also hoping that there has just been a big enough gap for your appetite to have recovered and you will be able to enjoy four more cheeses.

We have four cheeses for you this month which we selected purely on the basis of which cheeses were in the best condition; January can be a difficult month for cheese as stocks are low after Christmas and new cheeses have often not reached us yet. I am really happy to say that three of these cheeses are Irish and one fantastic Swiss; it is a great sign of the continued development of Irish cheese.

We have chosen two cheeses from Helen Finnegan at Knockdrinna; Helen does not farm but buys in cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk from different farmers and makes a great variety of cheeses. We have selected Knockdrinna Meadow; Helen’s sheep’s milk cheese purely because it tastes so good! There is a particular flavour that develops in good mature sheep’s milk cheese, it is almost greasy but in a pleasant way like a really good lamb stock, and this flavour changes and intensifies from the centre of the cheese until just under the rind, I would encourage you to try. The second cheese from Helen is a new one, just released at the end of 2013; Brewer’s Gold. This is a collaboration with The Little Milk Company; a group of organic cow’s milk producers; and Irish craft Brewers who have provided the Beers and Ales to wash the rind. Washing the rind of a cheese with alcohol is not a new development, spirits, wines and beers have been used to wash the rinds of semi-soft cheeses for centuries. The general effect is firstly keeping the rind damp which allows the pinkish cultures to develop, the alcohol can help keep some unwanted moulds at bay and the particular drink can add a very subtle flavour.

The third cheese is another new cheese; Kearney Blue. This is the first cheese we have sold which comes from Northern Ireland, so that is a positive step. Paul McClean has been developing this new blue for several years and production is now in full swing but at on a very small scale which is the way Paul likes it. It is quite a little cheese, each one weighing just over 500g. The flavour is quite delicate and it has a great moist texture.

The final cheese is Etivaz from high in the Swiss Alps. One of the lovely things about eating cheese in winter is that the flavours and nutrition we receive are often captured from summer pastures by the cheese and released to us when we most need them. This is certainly the case with Etivaz; it is made only in summer months when the snows on the alpine slopes recede and allow wild and diverse pastures to flourish.

I hope you enjoy the cheeses we have selected for you and a happy and peaceful New Year to you all.