Veronica and Norman Steele began making cheese on their farm at Milleens, on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork in 1976. Since then Milleens has won numerous awards including ‘Best Soft Cheese in Europe’ at the London International Cheese Show, and ‘Supreme Champion’ at the British Cheese Awards. Veronica is generally regarded as being the first farmhouse cheesemaker in Ireland, although she is wont to play down her own importance in the development of Irish washed-rind cheese.
Their son, Quinlan, is now in charge of day-to-day operations at Milleens, and milk is now bought in from a neighbour, as the Steeles no longer keep their own herd.
Milleens is a washed rind cheese made with pasteurised cow’s milk. It is probably the strongest of the four classic Irish washed rinds, the others being: Durrus, Gubbeen and Ardrahan.
In ideal condition Milleens should have an ever so slightly wet rind and a chalk paste which bulges towards the rind but remains chalky in the middle. The pleasure involved in eating good Milleens centers around the contrast between the whiffy, pungent rind and the fresh, lactic taste of the paste within.
Veronica reckons Milleens is best with bread and wine, try it with a nice rustic bread and a gutsy Rasteau or similarly rustic southern Rhone red.