Irish Cheese, Please


St. Patrick’s Day is soon upon us! Whether that means celebrating your Irish heritage, dressing up in green, heading to a parade, or just grabbing a green bagel, I highly recommend adding cheese to any of these activities. Yes, I recommend adding cheese to almost all activities, but still, this is a perfect excuse to highlight the seriously awesome Irish cheeses we have in the shop.

Coolea – Helene and Dick Willems moved from Holland to a small farm in Ireland in the late 1970s, producing cheese as a hobby. However, they were so dang good at it cheesemaking became a full-fledged business in 1986. Coolea is named for the town where it is made, Cúil Aodha, which, when Anglicized, becomes Coolea (pronounced kool-ay). It has the rich butterscotch flavor of an aged gouda (Coolea is made like a gouda), with the savoriness of white miso, and the caramel tones of buttered toast. Thinking about it now, Coolea melted over pieces of buttered toast would be an excellent St. Patrick’s Day snack! Or any day snack…

Darú – Coming from slightly farther north than Coolea in the County Tipperary, Darú is made at Cooleeney Farm where the Maher family has been perfecting their dairy herd for four generations. This means their milk is like, real nice. Darú is semi-soft in texture, with a thin cream line surrounding a crumbly center. With this enticing combination of textures and a tang and richness similar to clotted cream, this cheese is calling out for some jam! I really want to pair it with the Rhubarb and Berry or Sour Power from Mountain Fruit Co. Sweet, tart, dry, creamy, dreammyyyyy.

Shepherd’s Store – This is the first sheep’s milk cheese we’ve had from Ireland and we are in love! It is semi-firm with flavors of brown butter, cashews, and biscuits, which makes it an excellent pairing with pretty much everything. (I write these newsletters about an hour before my lunch break, and I always, always end up starving! Now, I desperately need a massive biscuit slathered in cashew butter with a giant hunk of Shepherd’s Store on the side.) The cheesemakers at Cashel started producing this cheese in 2017, so it’s still very new to the market making the availability uncertain. If you see it in the case, I recommend snapping up a piece!

Durrus – These wheels of Durrus we just received are some of the best I’ve EVER had. If you like slightly funky soft cheese, you must try it! Jeffa Gill started making cheese on her farm in 1979 to highlight the excellent milk from West Cork (southern Ireland). Now forty years later, Jeffa, her friend Ann Mcgrath, her daughter Sarah, and their team continue to make the washed rind Durrus along with three other cheeses. Durrus can range from mild and grassy when young, to crusty and grumpy when old. Nah, I’m just kidding! The young part is true but as it ages, it gets earthier and meatier. Durrus with some crusty bread or maybe a sweet cracker is my vote for a cheese to pair with a rich, thick Guinness. 

Cheers to Irish cheese! Please remember: beer + cheese = joy.

For the love of cheese and any reason to celebrate,