|Try this with a glass of Sauternes!|
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Monday, February 15, 2016
Taste of the WeekWicklow Blue Cheese
A delicate hand crafted creamy blue made using pasteurised cows milk and vegetarian rennet. This exceptional cheese has claimed gold, silver and bronze awards and has recently won Best Irish Cheese in the World, The World Cheese Awards Dublin 2008, alongside acclaim from food writers.
This is how the Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese describe their Wicklow Blue, our Taste of the Week. The soft cheese is deliciously creamy, slightly tangy and salty. Indeed, the blue element is moderate, not high and, quoting from the recent Sheridan’s book on cheese, may well provide a path into the category “for those who find the traditional blue cheeses a little too strong”.
This beautiful cheese is fresh and flavoursome and has won a string of awards, both at home and abroad, and is used by top chefs. Be sure and check out their other cheeses as well, particularly the companion Wicklow Bán.
I bought my Wicklow Blue in Bradley’s but Wicklow Farmhouse Cheeses are widely available, including in the main supermarkets. Check stockists here.
Pairing tip: Try it with a glass of Sauternes!
Monday, January 4, 2016
Taste of the Week
Watermelon Rind Pickle
|Watermelon Rind Pickle on Cashel Blue|
Hadn't heard of this Watermelon Rind Pickle until Michael Creedon recommended it to me in Bradley’s, North Main Street, before Christmas. I was chasing cheeses and he told me that this was a brilliant match with blue.
I have never had a bum tip from Michael and this proved to be another winner. I meant to try it with his Wicklow Blue but that was sold out. In the meantime, I won a Cheese hamper in a Sheridan's Competition and that included a large piece of Cashel Blue, one of my all time favourites. The match was brilliant, no doubt about it. And it also went well with 15 Fields, a mature cheddar that was also in the hamper. Lucky me!
The pickle is by made by Passion Preserved, based in Ballinderry (between Lisburn and Lough Neagh), the idea coming from the southern states of the USA. This Dixie Delicacy takes three days to make. Try it with pork chops! Also in cocktails, wrapped in bacon and baked, even with ice-cream. They make a whole range of preserves, including Rhubarb and Date, Kasundi (spicy Indian), Sunchoke Relish (another from the southern states) and more. Check them all out here or at Bradley’s.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
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,
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)