Showing posts with label Coolea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coolea. Show all posts

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cork Cheese Dinner. Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.


Cork Cheese Dinner
Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.
Carrigaline's Padraig O'Farrell (left) and Coolea's Helene Willems
with yours truly at last night's dinner in Cork Airport Hotel

We are used to the cheese course at the end of the meal. But this one came at the end of a meal in Olivo, the restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel, the host venue for the inaugural Cork Cheese Week, a meal in which all the previous four courses had been based on cheese. Were we stuffed? No. Our four local chefs got the quality and the quantity just right and we enjoyed a delightful meal that brilliantly illustrated the variety of texture and flavour available in Irish cheese today.

Delighted too to share this meal with Helene Willems. Helene with her husband Dicky were among the pioneering Irish cheesemakers, setting up in Coolea about 40 years ago. Now the second generation carry on the business at the same high standard, leaving Helene and Dicky plenty of time to enjoy life on the road in their beloved camper-van! 

Stracciatella

Appropriate that Helene was with us at the Gouda table! As was another superb Cork cheesemaker Padraig O’Farrell of Carrigaline Farmhouse whose mother and father started their cheese-making business over 30 years ago.

The innovative Toons Bridge Dairy featured in our Amuse Bouche, a delicious Stracciatella with picked cherries and candied walnuts by Fran Jara who has just completed a six month course at the famous Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian, “well worth every cent,” she told me as we sipped some lovely bubbles as the guests gathered.
Soufflé

Quite a few were associating cheese meals and heaviness but the opposite was the case with our lovely starter by Kate Lawlor, a soft and delicious Twice Baked Bluebell Falls goats cheese soufflé with a Hegarty’s Cheddar glaze with beetroot carpaccio. 

Pam Kelly’s main course was naturally more substantial, quite a tour de force actually. The Gubbeen pork was the star of the plate of course which also featured Coolea and Rockfield (sheep) cheeses with an excellent apple and parsnip sauce.

Our chefs were rocking it and the dance continued with a flower bedecked dessert from pastry ace Christine Girault, now dividing her time between Cork and Paris. Her “tarte aux fruits” looked well and tasted even better.

Pork

By now, the generous servings of wine were being replaced by coffee though not before we sampled the cheese board with Coolea, Cashel Blue, Carrigaline, Hegarty’s Smoked Cheddar and Gubbeen all featuring. And the hotel continued to spoil us with a selection of petit fours! Quite a night ahead of two working days for the cheese makers as they were due to meet the punters for tastings and workshops on today Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11.00am each day. Details here.

The Cheese Week at Airport Hotel
Part One, mainly new cheeses
Part Two, mainly the classics









Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Bridge Bar. Fine Wine, Craft Beer, Top Spirits, Tasty Food, Music.


The Bridge Bar
Fine Wine, Craft Beer, Top Spirits, Tasty Food, Music


It is the last day of August and very wet as we reach Bridge Street in Cork’s Victorian Quarter. We didn’t complain too much about the rain after such a fine summer - remembering that we were praying for it a few weeks back.

In any case, we were going indoors, into the warm and snug Bridge Bar. Here, a few yards from Patrick Bridge, they serve fine wines, classic cocktails, craft beers and some really cracking gins (including quite a few Irish ones).

They also do a great pre theatre offer of a bottle of wine with a sharing board of light bites for two for €25 which is well worth a try judging by our experience. And if it’s just a drink you want then this long and narrow bar is perfectly situated if you’d fancy a drink before or after the show at the nearby Everyman or when dining on McCurtain Street. 

They also do a great Aperitivo & Nibbles, available Monday to Saturday 5 - 7pm. Enjoy two Gin & Tonics or Aperol Spritz with nibbles for €12.

When we were seated at the bar, we had a quick look at the wines on offer, quite a few very tempting indeed. The Spanish Ayud Chardonnay is unoaked and organic and, on the red side, I spotted the delicious Samurai Shiraz from Australia.

But beer won out in the end. They have the usual main stream beers and also quite an array of craft beer on tap as well including Blacks of Kinsale, Yellow Belly, Kinnegar, White Hag, and Franciscan Well. And more keep coming according to manager Gavin.

We enjoyed the Kinsale Pale Ale and also the Ale from Sligo’s White Hag. In the meantime, we had a look at the food board. They have Valencia Salted Almonds and Olives Marinated in Chili with Thyme and Garlic as nibbles. There’s a very tempting meat and cheese board for sharing for €15.00.
White wines

The value is excellent here as we found out when we shared the Antipasto Board with cheese and no shortage of bread. The cheeses were Coolea and Cashel Blue and came with lots of little bowls including three tasty dips/spreads (including a beetroot hummus), a dish of artichoke hearts, a fine mix of marinated olives and a few other bits and pieces, all for a tenner! Top class stuff, as you can see by the cheese offerings, very tasty indeed and amazing value.

We were in early on Friday and the place gradually began to fill. Back in the spring of the year, we called in there much later in the evening and the Bridge was packed, great craic, and music playing. The Bridge is now heading into its second winter here and the frequency of live music events will increase as the daylight decreases. 

You’ll also see they do talks on everything from whiskey,  to local foods and Big Sporting events on the large screen too. Handy spot too for a party. Indeed there is a free White Hag beer tasting on this evening. Check them all out on Facebook @thebridgecork and Twitter @thebridgecork. 

6 Bridge St
Cork
Message: m.me/thebridgecork 
Call (021) 239 6185 
The Bridge (pic by The Bridge)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Brewmaster muses on Beer and Cheese

With Cork Cheese Week on (big weekend coming up at Cork Airport Hotel), thought you might like to read this 2016 post on Cheese and Beer, featuring Garrett Oliver, the renowned brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery.
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




Thursday, May 12, 2016

House Café. In the middle of our town

House Café
In the middle of our town
Mega mushrooms
The shows come and go but The House Café keeps performing in the Opera House, just a few yards from Patrick’s Street. So central, so good.

We called to this friendly place for lunch this week and enjoyed it from the start to finish, the welcome, the friendly informative service, the little chats and, of course, the food. Food that is based for the most part on top notch local produce: Crozier Blue, Knockalara, Ballyhoura, Coolea, O’Mahony Butchers among those featured.
Falafel
We could have had one of the soups (carrot, ginger and coriander looked tempting. Or one of the sandwiches (Coolea cheese with wild garlic pesto caught the eye). But once I saw the Creamed Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms on sourdough toast with Parmesan and organic leaves, I was hooked. It is one of the best expressions of these fabulous mushrooms (much in demand by the country’s top chefs) you're likely to come across. Go in and try it!

CL too cleaned her plate, every little bit. Her choice was the Spiced Chickpea and Sweet potato Falafel with hummus, tahini sauce and salad with a roasted pide (a Turkish bread). Her dish cost nine euro, mine two euro more. Both were vegetarian but we didn't even think about that, just good food, and that’s the way it should be.

Since we had skipped the soup, dessert was on the cards. I went for one of the specials and it was very special, again worth a call if available. This was the Carrot and Pistachio cake (3/50), toasted and served with butter and cream. It was so good! Too good in fact. CL got very interested and I had to give over fifty per cent, On the other hand, I got fifty per cent of her lemon Drizzle Slice (3.50), and quite a superior Lemon drizzle it was.

Sp we relaxed and finished off our Golden Bean coffees (2.30) before settling up at the counter (cash only, by the way!) and heading off to Pana (the local name for Patrick Street).

House Café
Opera House
Emmet Place
Cork
Tel: (021) 490 5277
Email: housecafecork@gmail.com

Twitter: @HouseCafeCork

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Square Table Launched

The Square Table Launched
Big Night for Coolea Sisters


Top left: Graham Neville (l) with Lucy and Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms.
Top right: Cheers! Martina and Yours Truly.

“I wish the two sisters all the best. They have shown great courage,” said Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis as he helped officially launch The Square Table restaurant in Blarney last night. The two sisters are Patricia and Martina Cronin, both originally from Coolea and now well experienced in the restaurant world. Patricia is front of house while Martina (who has worked with Ross) is the head chef.

Martina has also worked with Graham Neville, Head Chef at Restaurant Forty One, who also spoke at the opening. Graham is rather modest and it took Ross to step in and remind us all that Neville is the reigning Food and Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.

The two girls also spoke and their first priority was to say a big thank you to the people of Blarney for their support over the past few months. Martina said they simply wanted to present good well sourced Irish food and had big thanks for three mentors in particular: Kieran Scully (Bayview Hotel), Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and, of course Graham Neville.

Their suppliers too came in for praise as did their local staff (“absolutely fantastic”), all their friends, family, especially Mum and Dad.

Ross Lewis, from Cork himself, said he knows the Cronins well! “The heroes of today are those who employ people. I started in 1993 and I know that success will come.” But he warned that staying power was needed to deal with the special demands of being an employer, including PAYE, PRSI, banks, teaching employees.

“The complexities are enormous. It is a very daunting task. But I know the Cronins are determined. Martina has the doggedness of a lion. It is amazing and great to see people that we’ve worked with get out on their own”.

The sisters were hardly on their own last evening. There was a terrific turnout. Suppliers present included River Wines, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pat O'Connell. The media and blogger world was well represented by Joe McNamee, Jack Power, Caroline Hennessy, among others. And no shortage either of fellow restaurateurs, including Nash 19 and Jacques.

The family were naturally up in force from Coolea and customers were also among the attendance. And, after the speech, Matina was back in the kitchen sending out a stream of gorgeous little bites including Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese, Liscannor Crab, Michael Twomey’s Wagyu Rib-eye, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, and Old Millbank Smoked Salmon.

On the sweet side there were Macaroons, Poached Blackberries, Chocolate Brownies and a Lemon Cream and Blueberry meringue, all gorgeous. And no shortage of wine to wash it all down.

Thanks for the invite ladies and the best of luck in Blarney!