Showing posts with label Ballinrostig Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballinrostig Cheese. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cork Cheese Week. Old Favourites and New Cheeses


Cork Cheese Week
Old Favourites and Amazing New Cheeses
Part Two: Minding the Treasures of our Countryside
Stephen of Ballinrostig speaking to visitor Sue at the Airport Hotel.

Cheese makers may often live in isolated places but not in isolation. And it is no surprise to hear Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith of St Tola enthusiastically speak of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark during the Cork Cheese Week at the Airport Hotel. The natural treasures of County Clare (and indeed of any county) must be managed in a sustainable way, as must the local farms. 

Siobhán is one of the people supporting this drive to preserve the unique landscape to help develop thriving communities. If the landscape is damaged so too is our future, whether we are farmers or consumers. Might be a bit late this year (though you’d never know!) but I’ll certainly be heading to Clare next year to explore the park and also the Burren Food Trail.

Hadn’t met Siobhán for a few years (aside from Twitter of course!) but did stay very much in touch with her St Tola Irish Goat Cheese, a magnificent cheese (especially the ash log version). The St Tola motto is “better, not bigger.” And it is better. Try it for yourself; stockists listed here.

Coolea Cheese is nowadays made by Dicky Willems junior. Nothing but healthy fresh cows milk is used to produce this internationally highly acclaimed cheese on a mountain farm in Coolea, West Cork. One cheese but sold at different ages, from a mild and creamy 3 to 6 months version to the deep intensely flavoured Extra Matured (18 months). “You can’t improve on perfection,” said Dicky’s sister Lenneka when I met her at the Airport Hotel. No arguing with that!
Ballinrostig Cheese is owned and run by husband and wife team, Stephen Bender and Michele Cashman, since 2014. This year they converted their entire range to organic.  Their basic product is a Gouda style cheese.  The signature cheese is the Ballinrostig Organic Gold, mainly made from Jersey Milk, and it’s a beauty! The Gouda style herb cheese range includes Nettle, Cumin and Red Pepper and Garlic.  In addition they produce an Organic Cream Cheese with Nettle and Garlic, and a Halloumi and a Bán (Feta) cheese.  

Widely available are the goats cheeses being produced by Bluebell Falls from Newtownshandrum in North Cork. Outlets include SuperValu, Tesco and On The Pigs Back. I asked Victor how the change to tubs (from their earlier “tubes”) was going. “Very well indeed,” he said. “The tubs are more convenient, easier to open and easy to reseal.” And the quality is as good as ever!

Tipperary’s Cooleeney are well established and have been making cheese for 30 years. Catriona told me that they make no less than 13 varieties “mainly brie and camembert and a few hard ones also”. The milk comes from their own cows while the goats milk comes from local farmers. Enjoyed tasting their Gortnamona Brie style soft goats cheese and also their delicious Tipperary Brie, mild, creamy and buttery, the milk from their own cows. 

I also met Rob, representing Knockalara Sheep’s Cheese from County Waterford. The cheese, mild and soft, is made by his in-laws Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz in West Waterford, and was the centre-point of a delightfully delicious dish with pistachio, baby artichoke and roasted red pepper during a recent visit to the up and coming Waterford city restaurant Everett’s. 

They also do a mature version. Their cheeses - they also do a goats cheese - are available at local markets: Waterford City Market (Saturday); Dungarvan Farmers Market (Thursday); and Ardmore Market (Sundays in summer). Heard they made quite a match at the cheese show finding a perfect pairing with Melanie Harty’s Apple and Sage Jelly with chilli!

I did a few turns around the various stalls at the Airport Hotel but missed out on at least two. One was Coolatin, hand-crafted by Tim Burgess from his own pasture fed cows in West Wicklow for the past 20 years with a motto for their Mature Raw Milk Cheddar that reads: Pasture to Cheddar The Same Day.

Quality is enhanced by processing only in the summer months when the cows are grazing fresh clover-rich pastures. Besides, they use early morning milk, high in melatonin which aids sleep and relaxation and there is no storage or pasteurisation with the milk going direct to the cheese-vat.

The Carlow Farmhouse stand was also busy each time I called. They make an award winning Sheep Cheese, a hard cheese, which may be matured for up to two years. They also produce a Goats Tomme and a Cow Cheese (sometimes flavoured with herbs and spices).

Part One featured mostly the new cheeses and you may read it here.
See Also: The Cork Cheese Dinner






Monday, June 4, 2018

One Hundred and Twenty Top Artisan Products in the Bakestone Pantry. No Wonder Neil is over the Moon


One 120 Top Artisan Products in the Bakestone Pantry.
No Wonder Neil is over the Moon.
Shannen and Neil

Neil is excited when he starts telling me about the new Pantry at Bakestone in the Botanic Home and Garden Centre at the Fota Retail Park near Carrigtwohill in East Cork. And with good reasons: one hundred and twenty of them. Yes 120 top quality artisan products are stocked here, displayed ever so neatly by Neil (who started this new facility here about two months ago) and by Shannen. 

The come from everywhere on the island: butter from Abernethys in County Down, mushroom products from Ballyhoura on the Cork-Limerick border, fresh strawberries from Bushy's in West Cork, cheese from nearby Ballinrostig, jams from Donegal, Blackcastle drinks from County Wicklow, patés and more from On the Pig's Back in Cork City, and so much more.

And then he points to Bakestone’s own products. We’ve all known for quite some time that the Bakestone kitchen can come up with the goods in the café but now that expertise is being packaged and displayed in the Pantry. “Like any any pantry worth its name, we have jams and marmalades. All made over there in the kitchen.”

And then he shows me their own 12 hour slow-roasted Tomato ketchup and the Sriracha Sauce developed just in time for the BBQ season. And there’s also a coffee rub, which creates a delicious crust on the meat and locks in the juices. That coffee based rub is so new it hasn't got a label yet. And those labels are well designed by Coolgrey, as are all the labels here.

Neil has been busy sourcing local products and while local means Irish (he has Filligan’s jams from Donegal) he also has products from very close to their Cobh Cross/Carrigtwohill base. Take the honey for instance. “That’s Youghal honey,” Neil proudly tells me. “Robert Anthony is doing great work there on behalf of the native black bees.”

And also from Youghal comes the HOLO Kombucha, proudly organic and certified by IOFGA, the drink is the brainchild of Youghal brewers and twin brothers Padraig & Adrian Hyde whose Munster Brewery in the town is already well-known.

The Kombucha and Kefirs displayed in the Pantry are an effort to steer people away from the big-name sugar loaded soft drinks. No added sugar, for instance, in the bottles from Dublin’s King of Kefirs, including a couple of interesting combinations: lemongrass and ginger, cucumber, mint and thyme!

But don’t worry, Neil has some alcoholic drinks here also, almost all recent entrants to the market, including Móinéir Irish Fruit Wines from Wicklow, Mead from Kinsale, and those innovative drinks from nearby Killahora Orchards.
Chocolate from Carrigaline by O'Conaill

There is also has a sweet and dessert section, everything from the delicious Wilkies chocolate to the traditional hard boiled sweets by Shandon Sweets in the heart of the city. And biscuits also, including those classy ones from Lismore Food Company, delicious and beautifully packaged and ideal as gifts. I just noticed that one of the varieties is now available in a Gluten Free version.

Coffee is a big deal here. Not surprisingly, since Neil has worked with Badger and Dodo. He is chuffed that one famous Irish-Australian loves the Pantry coffee and always pops in here for a cuppa and a discussion whenever she is home. Neil and Shannen try to help people with their coffee choices, just a little practical info, nothing too overwhelming. But, if you do wish to take it to a higher level, help is at hand here as they do run Barista Courses.
Biscuits from Lismore

They also serve coffee in the Pantry and that helps take the pressure off the queue in the cafe itself and you’ll probably see that developed a bit further in the coming months. Neil took us over to the café and stood us lunch. An excellent quiche and a couple of salads did the trick and, by the way, the salad leaves come from Derek at the Greenfield Farm a few miles away in Knockraha.

Speaking of a few miles away reminds me to mention that Bakestone have taken over the Café in Fota House for the summer months. I’m a reasonably regular visitor here to the gardens and now I have another excuse to visit.
Wild Irish Foragers

Bakestone will be offering visitors locally sourced produce and the best of each season, and they will be serving produce from the Victorian Working Garden at Fota House. They will be serving a wide variety of fabulous eats every day and promise some exciting food events in the near future.
Quiche for lunch

Fota house themselves have a number of theatrical events lined up for the season including A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream on July 20th. Bakestone will be supplementing these with a series of music events. Tickets for the very first of the “LIVE AT FOTA HOUSE” gigs featuring Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill with special guests Swedish trio Väsen on Thursday 14th June are on sale now via the Bakestone Facebook page.

So there you are. Thanks to Neil and Shannen and others behind the scenes, there is quite a buzz and a good deal of momentum at Bakestone these days. Be sure to call in to the pantry anytime you’re passing along the N25; take the Cobh exit and you’ll be back on your journey and well fed or well stocked up or both in no time at all. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rostellan Hosts FEAST. Crustacean and Chocolate.

Rostellan Hosts FEAST

Crustacean and Chocolate
Courtyard at Rostellan Chocolate

Lobster roll

Lobster and chocolate featured on the menu as FEAST, the East Cork Food Festival, arrived at Rostellan last Friday night. The crustacean and the chocolate weren't on the same plate, by the way, as the music played and prosecco sparkled in the old courtyard. The opening hour weather wasn't all that promising - windy and showery - but soon relented and a pleasant evening ensued.

Peter could have brought all his guest indoors, into the spacious cafe that adjoins his chocolate factory, but that would have taken from the atmosphere and left the stallholders outside. The local Lobsterman was busy with an attractive list including Hot buttered Lobster in a roll (10.00) and Scampi (8.00). Very tasty stuff indeed, good value too.
Needless to say, this box didn't last long!

Stephen Bender’s cheese stall was another popular call. Based in Ballinrostig, the Dutchman produces a Dutch style Gouda from local milk. His basic cheese is Ballinrostig Gold. And then are are variations of that, such as Cumin; Smoked; Nettle; Red pepper, onion and garlic; Seaweed (Dillisk), along with a Nettle and Garlic cream cheese. We sampled the lot on a platter (with Ballymaloe relish and some bread) for eight euro.

I know Rostellan is only a few minutes out the road from Midleton but the new FEAST needs more satellite events like this one, more events too where you can spend as little or as much as you like. Great to see producers such as the Lobsterman (he was in his usual spot in Midleton Market on Saturday), Ballinrostig Cheese (they had a festival stall) and Rostellan Chocolate. Methinks there’s a blog post or two between them.
Dutch orange for the gouda man!

Just an idea, borrowed from West Waterford. Why not reach out to the producers in the general East Cork area during the festival? In Dungarvan, on the Saturday, four buses are organised, each with a different itinerary and each calling to three different producers. 

This year, for €25.00, you’d have been bussed to Knockanore to taste local cheeses on Lonergan’s farm, then ice cream at Baldwin’s Farm, then cross the Blackwater to Cappoquin and visit Barron’s Bakery, finishing with lunch at the bakery. Lunch wasn't included the year I did that trip and the cost was halved.

Another example from the 2017 festival: Dungarvan Brewing Company for a brewery tour, Harty’s Oyster Farm, Criostal na Rinne and finishing with lunch in the café of Sólás na Mara. Something for FEAST to think about for next year!
Music and bubbles
See other posts from FEAST 2017