Showing posts with label Knockanore cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Knockanore cheese. Show all posts

Monday, January 4, 2016

Taste of the Week. Watermelon Rind Pickle

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Taste of the Week. 15 Fields Cheese

Taste of the Week
15 Fields Cheese

Our Taste of the Week is the 15 Fields mature cheddar cheese. It is a cooperative effort between Eamonn Lonergan of Knockanore Cheese and Sheridan’s. The name refers to the fifteen fields of Eamonn’s West Waterford farm. The cheese is produced from “great raw milk” in Knockanore and is then transferred to the maturing room in the Sheridan’s warehouse in Meath.

Many of you will have noticed at various tastings that it is usually the young cheddar that gets the popular nod ahead of its mature cousin. Generally the reason given is people don't particularly like the usually very dry texture of the mature. Sheridan’s seem to have got over that hurdle with 15 Fields (matured for 14 months).

It is their first venture as affineurs and, while it is early days yet, they “are really happy with how it is going”. I tasted it over the Christmas (having won a hamper in a Sheridan's online competition!) and it is terrific, a lovely Cheddar, mature but not dry, full of great flavour and our Taste of the Week.

Sheridan's recent book Guide to Cheese classes cheddar as a Pressed Uncooked Cheese and you’ll also see it classed as a Scalded Hard Cheese. The group is large and varied and includes Farmhouse Gouda, Cantal, Raclette, Pyrenees, Tomme de Savoie (and other Tommes) plus most of the English county cheeses such as Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Cheshire and Double Gloucester.

They are particularly good for use in cooked dishes, the stronger flavoured ones giving the best results. Don't overcook or apply strong heat or the cheese will become stringy and leathery. They are also ideal for light meals and snacks, especially picnics and packed lunches. Versatile!
Visitors at Knockanore Farm

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Quelle Fromage! Bradley’s Cheese Board

Quelle Fromage!

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,
Christmas Chutney).
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)

Monday, April 13, 2015

On The Bus Bia Tour

On The Bus Bia Tour
Cheese, Ice-Cream, Bread
Wheels of fresh cheese, waiting to be stored.

It is ten o’clock on an April Saturday morning and we’re on the Bus Bia, heading into the countryside north of Dungarvan. The Bus Bia (Food Bus) is just one element in a packed weekend of activities organised by the West Waterford Festival of Food. We’re on the Blackwater tour and there are two other tours to different areas.
In the sunshine, we pass the house of famous local chef Eunice Power and the memorial to the renowned racing greyhound Master McGrath. Soon we are in Cappoquin. For a while we follow the spectacular Blackwater River, its big houses Dromana and Camphire standing proud, before cutting off deeper into the countryside for the farming area known as Knockanore. 
Bus passengers at Knockanore Cheese

First call is to the Knockanore Cheese company where we are greeted by Donal. They have 120 cows milking here. The milk is left unpasteurized and none is bought in. He tells us they make cheese in six flavours. The most popular is their Smoked version though the Black Pepper Cheese is well up there as well. They smoke it themselves, two weeks with oak-wood.
It is a long day in the dairy, from about 6.30am to 4.30pm. They process over twelve hundred gallons three times a week, producing about 190 wheels a batch. Each wheel weighs 2.8 kilograms. The cheese is then stored for around six months before being sold on at home and abroad (including Denmark, California and New York).
Tom Baldwin

They have grown the business gradually but now are in the throes of expanding their facilities at Knockanore, concentrating on more refrigeration and a bigger cutting area. Around six people are involved in the operation that was started in 1987 by Eamonn Lonergan who is still at the helm. The range is widely available and is stocked in SuperValu shops.

Baldwins are neighbours of the Lonergans and here we were greeted by Tom. Tom found himself with a conundrum in around 2005, whether to move from farming or whether to add on an enterprise to the existing farm which was being smoothly run by the family in any case. Inspired by Eamonn Lonergan he took a course in ice-cream making and started the Baldwin Ice-Cream business.

“We make ice-cream the traditional way. Sarah (who plays a similar role at Lonergan’s) does production for me two days a week. The eggs used are free-range, and all ingredients are natural. We sell to cafes, restaurants, hotels, retail. We pride ourselves on the unique quality and that comes out in the product.”

It is all manual work “at the moment”. “It suits me, is very flexible. For instance, if a chef wants a particular small order, we can do that special.”

Esther Barron
 The ice-cream enterprise has seen the dairy herd grow from 50 cows to some 100 plus. He still delivers direct to the customers: “We have no central distributor. I’m happy the way I'm going as it is a sustainable model. Most of our customers are in Waterford and Cork and we have built a good reputation.”

Back then to the bus and we retraced our journey to Cappoquin. Here we stopped at Barron’s Bakery which has been operating for five generations, serving only the local community (up to an 11 mile radius) for all those years. Esther Barron was our passionate host at the oldest bakery in Ireland and she underlined the importance of spending locally.

Oven closed
 They have 12 employed nowadays and bake during the night, using the amazing old-fashion Scotch Brick ovens. Bread-making here is a slow process but the bread is all the better for it. The bread is two hours in the making before it even gets to the oven whereas a factory process take only 20 minutes. “Hand-moulded bread is always more flavoursome. The bread can't be rushed. My father used to say ‘the art of bread-making is beyond science’”.

The bakery was established in 1887 and is one of the last bakeries in Ireland that still uses the Scotch Brick ovens. These give the bread an unique taste, flavour and crust as we found out for ourselves thanks to a parting gift of a Waterford bla from Esther and Joe.
A great half day on the bus, all for 15 euro. Put it in your diary for next year!

Oven open, like a small room inside