Showing posts with label The Little Milk Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Little Milk Company. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Cork Cheese Fair. Amazing New Cheeses.


Cork Cheese Fair
Old Favourites; Superb New Cheeses
Part One: Italy’s Oldest Cheese, from Mid Cork

Many of you will know of Vincenzo, the Italian shepherd best known for his Pecorino which is on sale at the Toons Bridge Market stalls.That was his first cheese here in Ireland but he has quite a variety now including a stunning new one called Conciato Romano. 

While there were quite a few old favourites, such as the classic Coolea and the outstanding St Tola, showing at the weekend’s Cork Cheese Fair in Cork Airport, there were quite a few new or at least relatively new ones, including Vincenzo’s, Cashel Blue’s Organic version, the aromatic Italian Truffle Cheese from Carrigaline Farmhouse, Rockfield (a hard sheeps cheese from Velvet Cloud of Claremorris) and Hegarty’s Templegall. 

The Little Milk Company also had a beautiful Mild Organic Irish Cheddar. Jessica told me it is flying in Germany and Denmark and should be on the home market soon - so watch out for that!

The Conciato Romano is an ancient Italian cheese, indeed many believe it is the country’s oldest, and its production is being encouraged by the Italian Slow Food Foundation. 

Vincenzo’s is made from sheeps milk but goats or cows may also be used. After being pressed by hand the forms are cured and dressed with olive oil and vinegar and herbs before being packed in a sealed jar (or amphora) and matured. “It sells well in the markets,” he told me and, for the moment, you’ll probably have to travel to Skibbereen where he has a stall every Saturday to get it (and his other very interesting variations).

Always a fair bit of variety in the Carrigaline Cheese portfolio and now there’s a new one, an Italian Summer Truffle. “A small piece goes a long way,” says producer Padraig O’Farrell who is delighted with the way it has turned out. For the moment, you cannot buy it in the shops but watch out for it in restaurants (it is available to chefs via Pallas Foods). Reckon there will be some beautifully aromatic dishes created using this one! 

Aisling and Michael (above), the duo behind Mayo’s Velvet Cloud, have become well-known because of their yogurts but now their Rockfield cheese is getting very popular as we found out during the Cheese Dinner that preceded the fair. 

It is creamy and buttery in the mouth with slightly sweet and nutty undertones. The cream coloured interior of this cheese becomes firmer and darker as the maturing period is extended and the flavour becomes nuttier. Supply of this lovely new product is fairly limited this year and Cork buyers can find it in On the Pigs Back. Should be more of it available next year and probably more stockists as well.

Hegarty’s Templegall comes in a big wheel and is a gorgeous delicious Comté style cheese. Dan Hegarty and Jean-Baptise Enjelvin (from Bordeaux but very much enjoying the “craic” in Cork) are rightly proud of this magnificent effort from the Hegarty’s Whitechurch farm. 
Hegarty's cheddar (top) and
new Comté style cheese

It has been earning plaudits for the past few months. It is available in cheese shops such as On the Pigs Back and you’ll also come across it in restaurants. And don’t forget that Hegarty's are famous for their cheddars.

Cashel Blue is also very famous and their newish Cashel Blue organic is a another gem. “More mature than the original,” PJ Ryan told me on Saturday. “More of a hit to it but the same creaminess.” You can get this in cheese shops, including Iago. 

Also tasted their lesser known Shepherd’s Store, a traditional, European style semi-hard cheese. As a seasonal product, it is made only between the months of February and September, and is aged for a minimum of six months. Try it out at On the Pigs Back.

See Also: The Cork Cheese Dinner
Cork Cheese Week Part 2

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.
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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!

Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!

Tours to the Dungarvan Brewing Company started last Friday, with Claire and Cormac doing the honours.  It is the first of what is billed as a summer series and you can get further info here.

It is well worth it. The tour caters both for the person with a casual interest in the process and for those with more technical interests. Cormac, who learned the “trade” through his home brewing, is the man for the technical stuff.

He took us through the various malts and hops that they use. Malted barley, for instance, is nothing more or less than barley "soaked in warm water". That is your basic ingredient but then there are various degrees of malting, right up to “roasted”, essentially burnt. This latter has a coffee taste and aroma - you do get to touch and taste it - and is used in their stouts, concluding my favourite Coffee and Oatmeal, a winter stout.

He explained the use of hops. Hops used early in the process is mainly for bitterness while it increases flavour when added in the later stages. Challenger is their basic hops but they also use the well known (and much in demand) Cascade with its more concentrated flavours (which means you use less of it).

The glamour side of the drinks business, demonstrated by brewer Cormac

Claire, one of two accredited Beer Sommeliers at the brewery (husband Tom is the other), then introduced us to the company's beers. What a great line-up they have!
Pale Ale fans are well catered for and Claire started with the Comeragh Challenger, a seasonal English Pale Ale. “Floral, light… easy-drinking..” she said. And so it proved.

The Cascade hops are used in Helvick Gold, a regular in the portfolio. This popular Irish Pale Ale is full bodied, generously hopped and “good with seafood”.

Next up was an American Pale Ale style called Mine Head, also featuring the Cascade hops. It has citrusy flavours and is not as bitter as an IPA and is great with food.

Perhaps the best known of the Dungarvan beers in restaurants is their Copper Coast Irish Red Ale. This will tell you that it is an excellent food beer. And Claire had the perfect match, producing the lovely organic Brewer’s Gold Cheese by the Little Milk Company. This locally produced cheese is washed a few times during production with Copper Coast!

Then on to the Blackrock Stout, a favourite since Dungarvan was founded four years back. Here the roasted malt was prominent and it went very well indeed with the dark chocolate that was handed around and quickly scoffed.

All the beers are traditionally brewed and bottled on-site in Dungarvan, and made using only four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals are added to the beers, they are unfiltered, unpasteurised and vegan-friendly. The core range consists of three beers – Black Rock Irish Stout, Copper Coast Irish Red Ale and Helvick Gold Irish Blonde Alewhich are complemented with a selection of seasonal and festival beers throughout the year.

It has been a terrific four years for the brewery and production has been boosted recently, a major factor being the pre-Christmas installation of a mechanical bottling plant (previously, it had all been done by hand!). Now that capacity has increased, so too can the volume and the export market is being explored with sales to Italy, the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and even further afield on the horizon.

The Brewery was the final stop in a "foodie" mini-tour to the east from Cork City. See a short account of the other stops here.
Cascade hops

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Little Milk Company and Their Great Cheese

The Little Milk Company.
And their great tasting cheese!
Last week it was Salon du Fromage in Paris and a bunch of export orders. This week, the Little Milk Company, with the aid of some lovely wines from Tindal Wines was trying to crack the Cork market.

And Conor Mulhall, from the Little Milk Company, came yesterday to Jacob’s on the Mall, armed with a line-up of terrific cheeses, all made from organic cows’ milk supplied by the ten farmers, spread over Munster and South Leinster, that make up the company. The herds include a mix of Jersey and Montbeliarde cows and even some rare breed.

John Liston from Croom, one of the farmers, explained that just because they are organic doesn't mean they are a bunch of fuddy duddies. Far from it; they are cutting edge, some of them ranked in the very top tranche of Irish dairy farming. Indeed, one is introducing a robotic milking system (powered by alternative energy), a system that apparently is very well liked by the cows.

John did say that generally they are small farmers and their milk is being turned into cheese by small cheesemakers and they are Knockdrinna (Kilkenny), Mossfield (Offaly) and Knockanore (Waterford).
Organic Brie
The tasting started with the Organic Brie, soft and creamy, rich and full of flavour. Superb. The new Brewer's Gold, a star in Paris and a top seller at Christmas, was semi-soft and, its rind washed daily by a local ale, might well have been better paired with a local beer, but there was no denying the beautiful flavours contained in this rich and creamy cheese. Watch out for it!

Then we were on to the multi-award winning 9 month cheddar, this made in an 18kg wheel from pasteurised milk. The body may be firm but the cream is till there, mild and gorgeous with earthy tones and a nutty aroma.

Next up was a 12 month Cheddar, 13 months actually. Harder for sure but still that creaminess is there. This too has picked up its share of awards and was a favourite at the Jacob's tasting. In fact there is no stopping these guys as their last cheese, the 18 month Vintage Cheddar, is also a medal winner. This is that bit drier, that bit more flavoursome, maybe a bit too strong for some but well worth a try.

All the cheeses are hand-made and hand-turned using traditional methods. No fewer than 17 awards have been won in the past year, most of them internationally. The judges like them and I'd have to agree that these cheeses are all very good indeed.
Brewer's Gold
The wines too were quite interesting as they were described by Billy Henchy as own-brand wines. He explained: “Anthony Tindall has been flying round the world since the company's launch in 2004, visiting our producers and sourcing the best wines for our customers. In 2007 we decided to fly solo by producing our own range of wines from South Africa. Swallows Tale was 'hatched'. Puna Snipe from Chile and Hooded Plover from Australia migrated to Ireland over the next couple of years expanding our avian collection and increasing our offering of consistently high quality, good value wines to our customers.”

You’ll see Puna Snipe in quite a few restaurants and that is the name that Tindals use to market their Chilean own-brands. We enjoyed a Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Chardonnay and both came across really well, the Chardonnay going down well with the Brie. And the two Chilean reds, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, both 2012, were also very acceptable, especially with the Cheddars.

Two Tindal blends came from South Africa, both really good, the Swallow’s Tail Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and Swallow’s Tail Sauvignon Blanc Chenin Blanc 2012. Again the red was better with the cheddars while the lively if lightly flavoured white paired off well with the Brewers Gold. Would have liked to have tried that with either a beer or a cider.

So well done to Conor, to Billy and to John for the information and insight they brought to our little corner of Jacob’s on the Mall on Tuesday afternoon.