Showing posts with label Milleens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Milleens. Show all posts

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




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Good Food Ireland Conference. And Awards

Good Food Ireland Conference
And Awards
Pádraig Ó’Céidigh
Didn't expect a clinical psychologist to be the star speaker at the annual Good Food Ireland conference in the Shelbourne Hotel (Dublin) yesterday. But that psychologist was Dr Maureen Gaffney and she took the room by storm as she looked at the Feel Good Factor.

Must admit I’m one of those people who just love to see a smile. Maureen says smiles “are all important”. “People are ready to co-operate with you..work on it.. smiles help to form that very important first impression. We all have bad days .. act positively especially when things are bad.” She said there is  evidence that shows that smiling even helps the smiler. “It triggers (even fools) your brain”.

And she also pointed out that a negative mood in the team leader can have a negative influence on the staff, your staff. This is a “high risk” to business. So learn to smile. Cheese!


“Get your self right..then you'll get a whole lot more right. Learn, achieve, grow. Vision is vitally important, start with your vision. Values are really important, not just accessories...There is evidence that people driven by a higher set of values do better.”
Maureen Gaffney (left) and Xanthe Clay
Set challenges, she urged. “Keep learning, growing, have projects, invest time and effort in them. And connect! Not just on digital platforms but also in the real world, family, friends, clubmates. These real connections will provide “personal experience and insight, contextual information, personal recommendations”.

So get social,and get connected, she urged. And she ended with a reminder about that smile. “Nurture your optimism!”


Xanthe Clay, author and journalist, spoke on the fickle British market, especially the fickle press. One day they headline that coffee is good for you, a week later they say it is bad for you. She urged irish producers to give value for money and highlighted the importance of trust (especially after the rocky year that saw the horse meat scandal gallop across the headlines). “Be open, she said. “Show people what you do. If you do add an additive to your food, list it, explain it.” Much better than your customers ambushed by the news in the press later on.

Asked what were the outstanding Irish qualities, she didn't hesitate: “Tradition, warmth, quality. These never go out of fashion.”

Coming into fashion is Origin Green, Bord Bia’s new programme to enhance and promote sustainability and explained on stage by Una Fitzgibbon. This was quite a sombre presentation, no jokes here. Great to see producers such as the Apple Farm’s Con Traas and Stonewell Cider’s Daniel Emerson being very enthusiastic about it on a short film. “This is a big deal,”said conference chair Darragh McCullough. “Only going to get bigger.”


Margot Slattery of Sodexo started with some very impressive numbers: purchases of some 18 million euro in Ireland every year. 420,000 employees worldwide and growing. “We stand for sustainability and fresh food” as client companies are looking for healthy weight and healthy life for their employees. Sodexo run gyms, even detox programmes.
Siobhain from Kalbo's and Yours Truly
Margot said they feed 50,000 a day in ireland. “Not frozen food, these are cooked, from scratch, on a daily basis.”

Just before a break for lunch, there was a panel discussion on Digital Marketing and two bits of advice emerged, at least two that I noted. Check out the recent changes in YouTube as they make it more interesting to business. And also have a look at Vine for short video promotions.


If Maureen Gaffney was the morning star then Pádraig Ó’Céidigh caught the attention in the afternoon. The founder of Aer Arann took us on a flight. He started in the Comfort Zone, then challenged us to enter the Stretch Zone before warning us about the perils of the Danger Zone (here, you can damage yourself, he reported, from experience).
Kevin and Réidín from Sage
Citing the small beginnings of what is now the Kerry group in 1972 and the choice made by Clonakilty Black Pudding’s Colette Twomey to run the company after the death of her husband as examples of leaving the comfort zone.

And Padraig is optimistic right now. “This is a great time to be an entrepreneur. There is great optimism out there, great opportunities. Time to leave the comfort zone.”


“There have never been such a demand for good quality food. Be solid on your own two feet, use what’s between your ears. No reason why we can't have another Kerry.”
The world will go on with you or without you. Make sure it’s with you. Believe it and go for it. Never forget your roots and use that little bit of Gaeilge!”

An afternoon panel discussion on our food future produced some interesting points. Martin Shanahan thought too much of our fish is being exported. Country Choice’s Peter Ward urged the industry to be creative, to re-invent our own Irish produce. Chapter One’s Ross Lewis says he sees confidence building in young Irish chefs, “not necessarily mimicking foreign chefs.The industry has changed more in the last three years than in the previous thirty.”


Minister for Tourism Alan Varadkar launched the Good Food Ireland prepaid MasterCard, a food travel passport for visitors to the county’s producers, shops and restaurants and said he was encouraged by progress in tourism numbers this year and employment growth in the industry. He lauded the “great decision” by government colleagues to retain the 9% VAT and acknowledged that lobbying had had its effect and confirmed that there were no plans to increase the rate in the future. We are very much in recovery mode.”
The delegates assembled in the same room for a cracking dinner in the evening. Skeaghanore Duck and Clare Island salmon were the centrepieces, all washed down by superb wines from Classic Drinks.

The awards were announced as the desserts were being served and the large Cork contingent had plenty to cheer about with Midleton's Sage Restaurant, URRU Culinary Store in Bandon, MIlleens Cheese, Kalbo’s Cafe in Skibbereen and Kinsale’s Fishy Fishy all winning their categories.

One of the loudest cheers of the night went to Ballymaloe’s Rory O'Connell who was declared Ambassador of the Year, mainly for his part in feeding, at short notice, 10,000 delegates at the recent Web Summit. Mount Juliet won three awards including the Supreme Award and Restaurant of the Year Award.


All the awards were presented by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who smilingly indicated there were three women he must listen to: Mrs Kenny, Angela Merkel and Margaret Jeffares (the dynamo behind Good Food Ireland).







Friday, June 28, 2013

Faceless saint, unknown knight and wrong-way Corrigan

Limerick
Day 1

Faceless saint, unknown knight and wrong-way Corrigan



There is, in the Askeaton Franciscan Friary, a saint whose face is fading away. For generations, visitors with toothache and related problems have been kissing him on the face in the hope of a cure. Not too sure if the aches vanished but the saint’s face, at least the area round the mouth, is vanishing.

In the same abbey, there is a statue of Saint Patrick, high in one of the internal walls, easily missed. I’d not have seen it but for the help of a local man who also told me about the toothache saint and the unknown knight. The story is that this anonymous knight arrived in Askeaton and died there and is buried in a wall in the abbey with the following inscription: Pass me for I am strange.



But the real highlight for me is the cloisters (below), more or less intact in this 14th century building. These, plus the saint, the knight and Patrick are national treasures, open to the elements, including the criminal ones.
No chance that early aviator Douglas Corrigan would remain anonymous. Denied permission to fly from New York to Dublin, he was given the option of NY to San Fran. But the intrepid pilot headed east and landed in Dublin, claiming his compass had mal-functioned!
Heard that yarn and a whole lot more in the fascinating Flying Boat Museum in Foynes earlier in the day. Many stories are about the flying boats in their heyday at Foynes (late 30s, early 40s) and obviously lots are of Irish interest. The highlight though is a full size replica of the Yankee Clipper (built by Boeing and called the B314). This gives a terrific idea of what a flight in this type of machine was like.

Here also you’ll hear how, and why, Irish Coffee was invented. There is a little gift shop and also an impressive little restaurant, the B. O’Regan. ”Mouth-watering home cooking at very reasonable rates” they say. Soup and brown bread for €3.95 sounded reasonable but my plain scone cost €2.95! But it was of decent quality as was the reliable Bewley’s Coffee.
Mustard Seed garden
After that, headed out the Shannon estuary, as far as Tarbert where we saw the impressive car ferries come and go between the Kerry port and Killimer in Clare. Pity the day’s weather wasn’t the best. It was dry and generally dull but we still got a great idea of the impressive estuary,  Ireland's largest.
Mustard Seed garden
Headed back then, via Askeaton, to Ballingarry and the Mustard Seed, set in a former convent. Great welcome here, local cheddar, peaches and Prosecco in the room, and then a walk in the garden, a garden given over mainly to vegetables but with some gorgeous flowers and surprising mini-vistas, even including a little Buddha shrine!
Plate of lamb

All that was needed now was a good meal. And I got it at the Mustard Seed. Superb from start to finish. Briefly, it was Rabbit and Pig Terrine, Lemon Sorbet, Assiette of Lamb (above), and Selection of Irish Farmhouse Cheeses (including Milleens and Cashel Blue).  Five star. And then a comfy finish with the end of the wine and coffee in front of the fire! Happy days.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Milleens Cheese in Cork

MILLEENS CHEESE



Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) once said that the French had 365 different cheeses. The French politician was familiar with the southwest of Ireland but when he visited the country he would have found it difficult to locate any real cheese.

Milleens is generally credited with producing the first modern Irish Farmhouse cheese in 1976 and the company improved it over the following years. It is still going strong. Picked one up recently at On the Pigs Back in the English Market and enjoyed it.

It has a mottled peach, and sometimes orange, washed rind and within is a paste that goes from semi-firm to spilling cream. The flavour is a complex mix of delicate herbs along with a spicy tang. That spicy tang doesn't suit everyone but personally I have no problem with it and is in any case tamed when mixed in with a salad.

My piece was marked Milleens Dote. Wasn't too sure about the Dote but it is simply the term use to indicate a 200g round, the smallest size.

The soft cheese is made by the Steele family from the milk of Freisan cows on the rugged Beara peninsula. It is a regular award winner and features regularly on the cheese board of top class hotels and restaurants.

Check out my review of Milleens Cheese - I am cork - on Qype
Photos show fishing boats at Castletownbere and De Gaulle memorial in Sneem