Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taste of the Week Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese

Taste of the Week
Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese

Gubbeen is one of the original Irish cheeses and one of the very best. It is made in West Cork from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s mixed herd of cows and is a firm rind washed cheese; the cheese itself is softer than the rind though it has a real bounce. 

It is widely available and I got my most recent wedge, our Taste of the Week, from the Cinnamon Cottage on the Rochestown Road in Cork.

The Fergusons make just one type of cheese and the variations are down to age and smoking. Well, what does it taste like? At the younger stage, it is milky, creamy even, and is mildly pungent. That changes as it gets more mature so the best thing is to try it at different stages, perhaps at a Gubbeen stall in a Farmers Market, and see which suits you best.

Much the same can be said about the smoked version, done in the Gubbeen smokehouse by son Fingal. Again, the youthful version is mild while the mature has a stronger flavour. Some people like the younger cheese, others prefer the mature. Over to you. You may well like both, as I do.

Read all about Gubbeen on their website here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Brewmaster muses on Beer and Cheese

Brewmaster on Real Beer and Real Food
Garrett Oliver in Oxford Companion to Cheese
Garrett Oliver

“You need real tomatoes to make tomato sauce.” 

Garrett Oliver started a Ballymaloe LitFest talk and beer tasting, with this line. Soon, he would delve into bread and cheese, including fake bread and fake cheese. 

Garrett played a key role as the brewing/culinary pairing concept reached a critical turning point in 2003, according to the newly published Beer FAQ by Jeff Cioletti. That was the year that Garrett's book, The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, saw its first publication. He was also the editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer.

So it no surprise to see the dapper brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery listed as one of the 325 contributors to the just published Oxford Companion on Cheese.

Yes, you read correctly. Three hundred and twenty five contributors! A few Irish among them, including Darina Allen (right) and Gianna Ferguson, Timothy P. Guinee (Teagasc), Alan Kelly (UCC), P.L.H McSweeney (UCC) and Colin Sage (UCC). 

But Oliver, tasked with pairing beer with cheese, is in his comfort zone. And, as in Ballymaloe, he first refers to the 20th century industrialisation of food and beverages “into nearly unrecognisable facsimiles of themselves” before craft began to restore “variety, subletly and life”.
Gianna and Fingal
Ferguson of Gubbeen
And so, in speaking of pairing, Garrett is talking craft and artisan. And he outlines the reasons why beer and cheese go so well together and, as always, he doesn't fail to boot wine down the list as a contender! In Ballymaloe, he said champagne comes in a beer bottle, not the other way round!

In quite a hefty contribution, he goes through all the types of beer, from light ales to Imperial Stouts. You’ll have to get the book to see all the possibilities but let's have a look in the middle of the list under the heading Wheat Beers and Saisons.

“Wheat beers..are slightly acidic, fruity, spritzy, and refreshing as well as low in bitterness. In contrast, the Belgian farmhouse saison style tends to add sharper bitterness, often alongside peppery notes. These beers make great matches for tangy fresh goats cheeses, and can be a great way to start off a cheese and beer tasting.”
Brewer's Gold from Ireland's Little Milk Co.
I presume some of you will remember the processed cheeses of our childhood, packaged in single serve portions, often foil-wrapped triangles. Names such as Calvita (the word apparently a mix of calcium and vitamin), Galtee, Whitethorn, come to mind. Well, the book reveals that the first such cheese (1921) was the French Laughing Cow.
In the Basque country - Brebis with black cherry jam.
At home in Ireland, I use loganberry jam.

This book is huge and is very inclusive indeed with no less than 855 entries and claims to be the most comprehensive reference work on cheese available. It is well written, well edited and both the expert and professional will find something of value. But it is not the type of book I’d read from start to finish.

It is one to dip into and that is what I’m doing here, just to give you a flavour. So if you want to look up kashkaval, you’ll find it is a hard cheese from the Balkans. Preveli is a semi-hard Croatian cheese.
Coolea
Want to get technical? Did you know that “stewing” is part of the process? That “stretching” refers to the traditional method of making Mozzarella? That “green cheese” refers not to a cheese that is green in colour but rather to a new, young, as-of-yet unaged, or underripe? That the holes in Gouda or Edam are not called holes but “eyes”?

And it is not just technical. There are many practical entries. Perhaps one that we could all read is under Home Cheese Care. Here you’ll read that the fridge may be bad for your cheese as it can be too cold for some aged styles.

And there are quite a few entries on the history of cheese around the world, including the Americas. Indeed, the book is published in the US. Was it Irish monks that first brought cheesemaking skills to St Gallen in Switzerland? Nowadays, in a possible reverse, you can get a lovely St Gall from the Fermoy Natural Cheese Company.

And how come it is only over the past forty years or so that Irish cheese is on the rise, Irish artisan cheese that is. In the Ireland entry, you read that by the 17th century, many distinctive aspects of Irish life and culture, including the Gaelic Farm economy and the native cheesemaking tradition, had been killed off by decades of oppressive English law. It took us an overly long time to recover!
Mobile Milking in Swiss mountains

Cashel Blue, as far as I can see, is the one Irish cheese to get an entry to itself. Cheeses, most of them famous, from all over the world are highlighted, including from places such as Turkey and Iran. 

Hundreds of cheeses then but here are just a few of the better known ones that you may read about: Camembert, Chabichou, Cheshire, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyere, Jack, Livarot, Mont d’Or, Ossau-iraty, Parmigiana Reggiani, Pecorino, Raclette, Reblochon, Stilton, Tomme, and Wensleydale.

And, by the way, Garret Oliver didn't get the matching field to himself! There is also an entry on wine pairing by Tara Q. Thomas!

The Oxford Companion to Cheese (December 2016), is edited by Catherine Donnelly, published by the Oxford University Press. Price: £40.00.

* The book also lists cheese museums around the world. None in Ireland, yet!


See also:

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork





Thursday, November 17, 2016

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese.
Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.
A buffalo on Johnny Lynch's farm, near Macroom
Pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele is credited with the development of modern Irish artisanal cheese and County Cork cheese in general gets a section to itself in the The Oxford Companion to Cheese, due to be published on December 1st. 


The 1084 page book, edited by Dr Catherine Donnelly, is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese and contains 855 A-Z entries in cheese history, culture, science and production. 

In the early 1970s, Steele and her husband, Norman, a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, decided to leave the city and the academic life in favour of raising a family on a small farm. 

Veronica first experimented to provide an alternative to processed cheese for her family and to preserve the excess milk from their one cow. She eventually evolved a soft and pungent washed rind cheese called Milleens. It was a great success and by 1981 was selling in shops and restaurants throughout Ireland and as far away as London and Paris. 

Steele was also inspired by cheesemaking as a route to viability for a rural area struggling with high unemployment. Today, Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan carry on the tradition of making Milleens, but the book says that all of Ireland owes Veronica Steele a debt of gratitude for her vision and generosity of spirit. 

The big breakthrough for Milleens came when Declan Ryan and Myrtle Allen tasted her cheese and enthusiastically featured their discovery on the cheese boards of two of Ireland’s most renowned restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Ballymaloe House.

The West Cork washed-rind cheeses Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen, and North Cork’s Ardrahan, each has an international reputation, and were all created by remarkable, spirited women, most inspired by Veronica. The flavour of Milleens is reminiscent of Munster (not the local Munster!).

Jeffa Gill started to make her semi-soft, washed-rind Durrus cheese on her hillside farm in Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in 1979. She too was one of the first generation of Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. Using artisanal methods, Jeffa and her team, gently and slowly craft a cheese that is closely linked to the land and the mild and humid climate.

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is made from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s herd of Friesian, Jersey, Simmental, and Kerry cows. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Gubbeen cheese is the unique type of microflora on the rind, which has now been identified and given the name Microbacterium gubbeenense.

Ardrahan, made by Mary Burns near Kanturk in North Cork since 1983, is possibly the feistiest and most pungent of all the washed-rind cheeses of County Cork.

Although the washed-rind cows milk cheeses have the highest profile they are by no means the whole cheese story of County Cork. Other fine cheeses, made from both cows milk and goats milk and now buffalo, round out Cork’s contribution to cheesemaking. 
Coolea

Dick and Helene Willems started making Coolea cheese in 1979 as a way to use up excess raw milk from their own herd of cattle and to provide the Gouda cheese that they were craving from their native Netherlands. Their son Dicky continues to make the superb cheese using milk from two local herds. 

Dicky told me an interesting story on a recent visit. Their cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west, on the Beara peninsula, and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.
St Gall, by Fermoy
Frank Shinnick and his German wife, Gudrun, began making raw-milk cheese in 1996 from their own dairy herd outside Fermoy, in North Cork. The cheeses are made in a 396-gallon (1,500-litre) copper vat procured at considerable effort from Switzerland. Fermoy cheeses are part of the Slow Food raw-milk cheese presidium. 

There are many other cheesemakers in the Cork area, such as the O’Farrells in Carrigaline and the Hegartys in Whitechurch, both well established. 

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during a visit. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.”

Hegarty’s make cheddar and their more mature versions are in great demand. The oldest is indeed the more popular though, according to Dan Hegarty, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!



Goats Milk Cheeses 


Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy, a microbiologist by profession, is perhaps the queen of goats milk cheese in County Cork, having started to make cheese on the Ardsallagh farm in 1980. At the other side of the city, Orchard Cottage thrives as does Blue Bells Falls in Newtownshandrum in North Cork.  



In Kilmichael, you’ve got the Sunview goats. Further west, on Cape Clear Island off West Cork, the remarkable blind cheesemaker Ed Harper makes small quantities of cheese from the milk of British Alpine goats that graze on his beautiful rocky farmland.

New Cheesemakers

Franco, cheesemaker at Toons Bridge Dairy, near Macroom
A few years back, neighbours Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch imported water buffalo and began making Toons Bridge mozzarella. A “parting” saw Johnny continue to make and sell the cheese, but now under the Macroom label.

There followed a burst of creativity at Toby’s Toons Bridge dairy and a few interesting Italian style cheeses emerged, including Cacio Cavallo (traditionally tied in pairs and transported to market by pack horse). And thanks to an Italian living near by, who has a small herd of sheep, Toons Bridge also began to make Vicenza’s Pecorino.
Cacio Cavallo (mainly) in Toons Bridge
And two new cheesemakers have emerged in East Cork this year. You’ll find the cheddar style cheese from the farm of Bó Rua used in the 12 mile menu at Midleton’s Sage Restaurant and on sale generally. Not too far away, Stephen Bender produces a delicious Gouda style cheese called Ballinrostig.

Looks like there’s no end to what Veronica Steele started!

The Oxford companion, the most comprehensive work on cheese available, has drawn on an astonishing 325 authors (from 35 countries), from cheesemakers and cheese retailers to dairy scientists, microbiologists, historians and anthropologists. 

It is a landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike.

* Cork has a butter museum. Time now for a cheese museum?

See also:
Cashel Blue featured in new Oxford Companion to Cheese




Friday, June 24, 2016

The Granary Foodstore Celebrates 20 Years! Popular Cafe in centre of Midleton town.

Granary Foodstore Celebrates 20 Years!
Popular Cafe in centre of Midleton town
“It was nice to mark the 20th anniversary”, said Jack O’Sullivan of Midleton’s Granary when I met him in the restaurant earlier this week. “The Kids Bake-off was a highlight but there was more. We had music, face painting as well, and there was a lovely atmosphere.” The beginnings were small but The Granary has developed into a fine family business, a much loved one, and Jack’s goal is to improve it but “still using the home style of cooking”.

It was his mother Eleanor who started the business. When she opened the door for the first time twenty years ago, the punters started coming. But there was an opening day drama, a little one. The cash till had not arrived as scheduled! But it soon appeared and they were up and running.
Laura (Manager), Jack, his mum Eleanor,
Alison (Head Chef) and Magda
That was in the original premises, nearer the distillery. It was in an old grain store, and that’s where the name came from. Eleanor, who still works in the cafe, had gained her experience in the town’s Farm Gate and one of her jobs was to make fresh pasta and that may well have been the first fresh pasta in Ireland.

She started off in her Granary making ready-made meals and baking, all done in the kitchen. It went very well indeed but, nonethless, ten years later, it was a bold move to the new development on the square, taking on a much bigger premises, the aim being to keep on doing the same, still more of a food shop than a sit-down cafe.
Bit by bit though, the ready-made sales started to slip and so the decision was made to make the restaurant, serving simple meals, the main focus. Jack, with limited opportunities in his chosen profession of quantity surveyor, was now on board.

“We were the first to do breakfast in the town. It took off well and is still busy. We offer it up to 3.30 and that suits customers. For lunch and brunch, we have some very regular customers, the same faces. It is great to look after them, they are fantastic. Loyalty is important and it works both ways. Honesty is another quality here, another important factor for us.”
We asked him if there was anything on the menu that the customers must have. “Oh yes there is. Our Crispy Chicken Wrap. We tried taking that off the menu but it provoked quite a reaction. So many customers come just for that wrap. And the Lamb Stew is another dish that we’ve been doing from day one.” By the way, we were sitting at a table that had been kept from the original Granary.

Founder Eleanor with Therese
O 'Donovan (Pastry Chef) 
His own favourite is a salad. “Yes, I look forward to them. We have a great variety and all are made here in the kitchen. And they are also very popular as a takeout. There is a trend now towards healthy food and that is going well for us. Still though, our cake display is another big draw for us.” The cakes, again all made on the premises, are unmissable; you see a table laden with tempting choices as you come in.

We asked Jack if many tourists visit. “We don't rely on tourists but this year, for some reason, quite a few more have come to us. There is good cooperation between the restaurants and cafes in the town. For instance if we are about to close or getting near to that time, we’d recommend another nearby venue.”

The Granary supports local producers including O’Farrell Butchers, Ballycotton Seafood, Pana Breads, Jack Cuthbert breads, East Ferry, and Leamlara Micro Greens.

Salad lunch
 Aside from Jack and his mother, there are 13 staff employed, “a great team”. “Our head chef is Allison, our pastry chef is Therese. People come from far and wide to work for us and that is encouraging. We have and need a very organised team here. Everything is freshly made.”


On our visit, we tried out a couple of those salads. I loved mine, based on Gubbeen salami. And, another tip, do try their Tunisian Orange Cake, gorgeous aroma, texture and flavour. And if you wish to find out more, check their website http://granary-foodstore.com where you’ll find the menu and even a few of their recipes!


My lunch at the Granary

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Get Your Fish. At Pier 26


Get Your Fish At Pier 26
Plaice and crab..
It’s a sunny Sunday, the final one in May; the beauty of Ballycotton is enhanced. And a delicious lunch awaits in friendly Pier 26.

But first a little walk, down the steps to the bottom of the cliffs, a sun trap and a great view of the cliffs themselves, of the nearby island and the lighthouse. All this, right on our doorstep.

Just as well we had booked ahead as most of the restaurant has been block booked by  a christening party. A warm welcome and soon we were studying the menu and a packed specials board. We had expected fish and that board was full of it: John Dory, Haddock, Hake, Plaice, Scallops, Squid, and Gurnard.
Vanilla roasted peaches
CL picked the Pan fried John Dory, carrot purée, tender stem broccoli, garlic and thyme roast potatoes, seaweed butter. An excellent dish, even if the carrot was missing, its absence noted about halfway through!

How many people check their dishes as they arrive to see if every element is present? In any case, we go out to enjoy the food as a whole, not to study every little detail. I fully agree with the well known Rhone winemaker who has said: “Two people talk about love, the poet and the gynaecologist. I prefer the poet.”

And enjoyment was also the operative word as I tucked in to my Poached Plaice, organic spinach, crab, fondant potato, sea vegetable cream (they do a fair bit of foraging here!). An superb combination, so well presented and enthusiastically dispatched, along with a glass of the rare Pazos De Ulloa blend of Torrontes, Treixadura and Palomino. Our other glass was from Australia, Berri Estates unoaked Chardonnay, another refreshing wine.

Top cheese
The dessert list is short enough but full of quality and we got two very good ones indeed. One was the divine Vanilla roasted peaches, Elderflower syrup, lemon Thyme, Madagascar Vanilla ice-cream, Almond brittle.

And the cheeseboard was highly impressive, billed simply as Selection of Irish Artisan cheese, Honey, oatmeal biscuits, Cockburns aged port. The drop of port and the little jug of honey were accompanied by Gubbeen, Toons Bridge smoked Scamorza, Bandon Vale Cheddar and the creamy Cashel Blue and those biscuits were quite a treat as well.

Took our time with that lot. And then it was out of the shade and into the sunny paradise outside, a short stroll down to the pier itself to get a different view of the lighthouse and take in the activity (not too much of that, aside from a few swimmers) on the pier. It will be much different this coming Sunday when the annual Seafood & Shanty festival takes place!

Ballycotton
County Cork
Tel: (021) 206 1449
Twitter: @Pier26cork
Hours
Wed-Thu:
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Fri-Sat:
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Sun:
12:30 pm - 7:30 pm


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Taste of the Week. Gubbeen Salami

Taste of the Week
Gubbeen Salami
In a 2014 article in the Guardian newspaper, Fingal Ferguson credited his Spanish maternal grandmother with a big role in his love of producing chorizo and salami (and much more) on the family farm in West Cork.

Fingal spent many a summer holidays with his grandmother’s family in Andalucia and obviously learned much, not that he has ever stopped learning the techniques, never discarding the traditions.

We should all give mucho thanks to his Abuelita (his mother too is fulsomely credited) as Gubbeen pork products are now renowned not just in West Cork, not just in Ireland, but further afield, hence the Guardian's interest.

I have been enjoying the Gubbeen chorizo for quite a while now but it is only relatively recently I got into the salami. Lightly smoked and with gentle spices, it is our Taste of the Week. The initial “toughness” quickly vanishes on the palate and soon you are savouring that delicious blend of smoke and spice. Close your eyes and you're in Andalusia. Sherry, please!

The Farmer's Markets, especially Mahon Point every Thursday, Bantry (Friday), Skibbereen (Saturday), and Schull on Sundays in summer, are places you’ll find a Gubbeen stall, and lots of advice on using the wide range and variety of products, including dry-cured bacon, salami, pistachio salami, chorizo, fresh ribs and chops.

For the rest of the country and abroad, check out the Gubbeen outlets and distributors here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Quelle Fromage! Bradley’s Cheese Board

Quelle Fromage!

Bradley’s Cheese Board
It’s late in the evening and you are supposed to have the cheese board under control. You had this one job and blew it! Maybe not. In a flash of inspiration, you remember that Bradley’s in North Main Street (Cork) are open when the cheese specialists are closed. And, to make it even better, Bradley’s have quite a selection, including Watermelon Rind Pickle (by Passion Preserves) that you won't find everywhere!

You’ve been told not to overdo the number of cheeses, four has even been mentioned as a max. So okay, let's take a look at the shelves here. Maybe start with a soft cheese. It's okay to mix the milks. And you spot the Ardsallagh Goats Cheese from East Cork. Chalk it down. If you think your guests might prefer a cow’s cheese, then Cooleeney is your man (maybe I should say woman!).
Wheels of freshly made cheese at Lonergan's Knockanore farm
Now to pick a semi-soft cheese. The choice is large here and the quality is high. Pick from three West Cork classics: Durrus Og, young Gubbeen or Milleens. Not easy.

Now, we’re onto the harder cheeses and Bradley’s carry various offerings at this level from Knockanore, Bandon Vale and Carrigaline. You’ve been warned not to include flavoured cheeses so that cuts the choice a bit. How about a change of colour here, Leicester from Bandon Vale or Red Cheddar by West Waterford’s Knockanore. Then again, many would be thrilled with Hegarty’s Mature Cheddar.
Can’t have a cheese board without a blue onboard. Many good ones now in Ireland though my favourites are still the Tipperary pair of Cashel (cows) and Crozier (sheep). But neither is available at Bradley’s, but happy to pick the Wicklow Blue. The cow's milk cheese has the rind pierced and the Penicillium roqueforti begins its work. Sheridan’s new book says this type of hybrid blue, moist and soft, “is a great introduction for those who find the traditional blue cheeses a little too strong.”

You’ll also need some bread and crackers. Bradley’s are stockists for Arbutus and their sourdough is a favourite with cheese. No shortage of crackers here either. Among others, you’ll find the Sheridans range, the chunky Gubbeen Cheese Oatcakes and the Carrigaline Cheese Biscuits made by Seymour’s of Bandon.

Chutneys in Bradley’s include:
Sheridan's range (Chutney for Cheese, Onion Marmalade, Chutney for Everything,
Christmas Chutney).
A great range too from Passion Preserved, including a fab Watermelon Rind Pickle, which is great with blue cheese!
Now you have everything you need and the guests are due in about half an hour or so. Where’s the cheese? In the fridge? Get it out, quick - you need to serve it at room temperature. Just before the doorbell starts to ring, cut that cheese (avoids leaving the mess that can happen if everyone cuts their own bits). Cut yours into wedges and strips (making sure the rind is evenly distributed), taking your cue where practical from the original shape.

And remember, when the compliments start coming in, that you got all this in Bradley’s in something of an emergency. Next time, why not consider the North Main Street shop for your cheese even if there is no emergency.

I’ve confined the cheeseboard to Irish products but there are also some international stars available in the venerable shop, founded as a dairy in 1850, including classics such as Mont D’Or (we had fun with that last week…), Parmigiana Reggiana, Stilton, and Manchego.

And cheese is just one of the many Irish artisan products available here and that’s all before you ever hit the off-licence at the back where you have wines from all over the world and beers and spirits (many of them Irish) galore.

The Bradley’s Cheeseboard
1 - Ardsallagh Goats Cheese
2 - Gubbeen (young, unsmoked)
3- Knockanore Vintage Red Cheddar.
4- Wicklow Blue

Seymour’s of Bandon Cheese Biscuits.
Passion Preserved Watermelon Rind Pickle (great with the blue).
Sheridan’s Chutney for Cheese.
Lisanley Honey (also in Bradley’s) for drizzling.
A few grapes and thin slices of apple will also be appreciated.
We’ll leave the wine and the beer, maybe a port, up to you (no shortage of the drinks or indeed advice in Bradley’s)