Taste of the Week
|Coolea in brine|
I’ve often heard of the camaraderie and support that exists between artisan producers. And I saw it in action at Schull Market on a recent Sunday morning.
I was looking at the cheese selection on the Gubbeen stall when Tom Ferguson began to sing the praises (not of their own Gubbeen, which is worth a song or two) but of a two year old Coolea. He followed up by offering me a sliver. It was every bit as good as he said so I bought a wedge and it is our current Taste of the Week. No big surprise really. Coolea were one of the pioneers and the cheese is sought after at home and abroad.
The cheese venture came about because the Willems family, wh had come from Holland, couldn't find any cheese here other than cheddar and mother Helena started, in 1979, on a very small family scale with a little pot. But now Coolea is a big name and much of the output is sold at the famous Neal's Yard in London while in Ireland Sheridan’s are the major customer.
The 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.
It is firm and smooth, a pressed uncooked Gouda style cheese. Early on the flavours are caramel, nutty and floral but they become more robust as time goes on, sweeter if anything and still carrying traces of its delicate youth. A gorgeous cheese and well worth watching out for.