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Showing posts with label Cooleeney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooleeney. 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






Thursday, December 18, 2014

Neven’s Cookery School. Step by Step with the Maestro

Neven’s Cookery School
Step by Step with the Maestro
One Happy Chef!
It might sound strange but Neven Maguire reminds me of Christy Ring. At least in his approach to his cookery school students. He takes it step by step, building confidence from the start and lots of discreet back-up along the way.

I remember “Ringy”, back in the day, teaching a few of us to take a sideline cut. He just didn't throw the sliotar down and order you to strike. No, he found a high sod and placed it there and, if you made a half decent connection, you hit a good sideline ball. “Hey, I can do it!” After that confidence boost, the rest came with practice.

Christy displayed the technique and dispensed good advice as did Neven in MacNean House last Saturday.

Presentation is important but getting the flavours right is even more so.

That was an early nugget from Ireland's favourite chef during our one day Christmas Cookery Course with him, in his own Cookery School in Blacklion (County Cavan). It used to be a hairdressers but there’s a different kind of style now on display here, right next door to Neven's restaurant MacNean House.
Prawn starter

The school has been open for twelve months. “It has been a great year,” said Neven. “A great year for me and a great year for my team. We are booked up every week from now until next June. But the Chef’s Table, a new venture of ours, is not too well known yet and that is not booked up.” The Chef’s Table (for 12 to 20 people) is situated here in the school and you’ll have Neven and his chefs cooking in front of you and serving you as well.

Neven always has great praise for his staff and many of them have been with him for years. His right hand people in the school are Olivia and Clare. “They keep it immaculate.”  Looking back at the year, Neven said it was a great one for him personally as he was voted Best Chef in Ireland and his new book Fast was voted best cookbook in Ireland.
As he took the varied group of students through the course, he was free with advice. He “ordered” everyone to buy a “plastic” wooden spoon, revealed that local Asian markets are “best for spices” and said that “broken walnuts are half the price of whole nuts”.  Looking for vanilla, then try Vanilla Bazaar. For Thai products look up Thai Gold in Wexford.

But Christmas Made Easy was mostly about the cooking. Everything from Mulled Wine to the Turkey was covered. The full title of the turkey lesson was: Buttermilk Brined Roast Butterfly of Turkey with Orange and Rosemary.

Cheese board

We got to make a Citrus Harissa Butter for the Turkey Crown. You can get the Harissa paste in most areas nowadays but if not available try sun-dried tomato paste instead. The Butter can also be used on grilled steak, pork chop, roast chicken and grilled fish (like hake).

We did a Pine Nut, Cranberry and Apricot Stuffing. By the way, dried cranberries are “very good in soda bread”. The other big item during the busy morning was the ham. Neven and his team were taking care of the ham itself but we got to do the Glaze and the Pineapple Salsa. Again, the glaze can also be used with Pork Chops while the Salsa goes well with grilled prawns.
Speaking of prawns, we got to make our own starter for lunch, a Prawn Cocktail with the traditional Marie Rose Sauce. To tell the truth most of it was done for us but we certainly picked up tips and hints galore. Besides, it was quite a nice starter.


But the Turkey and Ham were just fantastic, so full of flavour and the turkey so moist. Lunch was followed by a Wine and Cheese Tasting conducted by Blaithin McCabe who has been here since 2007. 

We started with La Contesse Spumante Prosecco and then a lightly oaked Potel Aviron Macon Villages 2011. The red was a Cotes du Rhone by Domaine Coste Chaude (2011) and then we enjoyed the Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port before sipping a MacNean Mulled Wine.

Perhaps the best match of the tasting for me was the Port and Cashel Blue cheese, made from cows milk. Also on the plate were Corleggy, a hard goats cheese from Cavan, Tipperary’s Cooleeney made from raw cows milk and Coolea (Cork) made from fresh cow milk.

Following an interesting tour of the kitchen, there were more lessons, including Chestnut, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Soup with Smoked Duck, Mulled Fruit Truffle, a Fruit Cocktail and Mulled Wine. Sadly though we had to hit the road earlier than most and missed the final session! Will have to go again in the future.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brown Thomas Launch Food Emporium

Brown Thomas Food Emporium
Birgitta Curtin
Cork’s Brown Thomas  launched their Food Emporium with music, wine and, of course, food in the store last evening. And it turned out to be a very enjoyable occasion.

Cheese producers were there in force. Great to meet, however briefly, Padraig O’Farrell of CarrigalineCheese  but we’ll see him again next week on their open day. Also there were Cooleeney,  Durrus and Gubbeen, the latter with their cheese and impressive Cheese Oatcakes.

Arun Kapil
Got a glass of wine on the way in and was soon comparing it in various glasses under guidance from Martin Turner of Riedel, in town especially for the event. The proper glass sure makes a difference – you can take that from an ex-sceptic! And the experience was repeated later with a lovely Pinot Noir (innocent Bystander) from Ballymaloe Wines , who have been in the Emporium for the past few months.

Ballymaloe  indeed strongly supported the event last evening and there was a sweet finish with their pastry chef JR Ryall  providing us with some gorgeous chocolate truffles to match with the dessert wine.  
But before that we had some great tastings. The Castlemartyr Resort even had a menu of good things to try and there was no shortage of volunteers. Tom Durcan, delighted with his Gold at the Blas as the weekend, had his corned and spiced beef on show.

Met Burren Smokehouse's Birgitta Curtin again, after the Blas Awards in Dingle, and this time got to taste her glorious smoked salmon. There too was Arun from Green Saffron  dishing out a perfect Chicken Korma. By the way, look out for his new Spice Blends and those luxurious Cook-in Sauces, so easy, so good.
Gubbeen
It is a busy time too for Timoleague’s Anthony Creswell of Ummera Smokehouse. He smokes salmon, duck, bacon and chicken, all terrific and regulars on menus on top restaurants, now at the Emporium and also available online. And then we had Una’s Pies, a really top product as her regular awards at Blas Na hEireann underline. Una is also a regular at Mahon Point Farmers Market.
Ummera
And from the kingdom itself came Sam of Cloudberry Bakery who make artisan cakes and desserts - anything from colourful cake pops and cupcakes to show-stopping wedding cakes. Cloudberry was a  Blas winner in 2012. So pop into the Emporium and treat yourself.

Very good but better in Riedel
We were very well treated last night – even got my pic taken with Rachel Allen – and there was a bonus of a goodie bag on exit. Well done to the folks at Brown Thomas and best of luck for the Christmas season.
Sweet finish!







Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TIPP CHEESE & KILKENNY SYRUP

HIGHBANK ORCHARD SYRUP & COOLEENEY CHEESE

Had heard only good things about Kilkenny’s Highbank Orchards Syrup which was launched in 2010. Spotted the bottle in Iago in the English Market recently and snapped it up. The price is close to 10 euro and looks high for 200ml but the organic product has a long shelf life and is very versatile.

"Ireland's answer to maple syrup", this sweet and delicious, pouring, organic syrup, is the first of its kind. Grown and produced by Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny, Ireland. With years of research, Highbank launched the Orchard Syrup in 2010 at Savour Kilkenny.

There was a little leaflet hanging from the neck with quite a few suggestions. Drizzle it on your porridge was one. I tried that but didn't find it very successful. More joy though when I added some to cheese.

Uses suggested on the site are: Drizzle on porridge and muesli, pour on ice cream, pancakes and desserts, glaze your ham, sausages or vegetables, flavour your stews, oat cakes and breads. As a hot healthy drink or in whiskey. Drizzle on cheese (particularly blue cheese), on paté and game terrines. Delicious on bananas as well as poured on Waldorf Salads!

Tipperary’s Cooleeney was the cheese in question. Met them at their stand at the recent Cork TasteFest and, for three of those controversial Corkers, I got a small round of their Dunbarra Farmhouse Brie (this with garlic). 

Cooleeney make quite a range as you can see on their site. They often suggest a matching wine and Pinot Noir was their choice here. Just happened to have one and yes that New Zealand Marlborough Little Beauty and Cooleeney got on well together. But perhaps the best match was between the Tipp cheese and the Apple Syrup from neighbouring Kilkenny.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

TOP IRISH CHEESES

HAPPY NEW CHEESE

So many Irish cheeses around these days, you could buy a different one for each and every day of 2011.

Started on the local track, not that I ever strayed too far off it, at our New