An Irish cheeseboard for St Patrick’s Day
With all the fuss about oysters and Guinness and boiled bacon and cabbage you may overlook what must be one of the best ways of celebrating St Patrick’s Day: an Irish cheeseboard.
Like England Ireland has the perfect climate for cheesemaking (well, apart from this abnormally wet winter) and makes some truly glorious cheeses.
As usual I would aim for a range of tastes and textures from cheeses made from different milks. Ireland makes some fine washed rind cheeses including a fruity Adrahan, Durrus and Gubbeen - all from Co. Cork though you really only need one of these.
For contrast I’d pick a nutty Gouda style Coolea (pronounced coolay) and award-winning St Tola organic goats cheese if you can find one. Knockdrinna, who also make goats cheeses, is another name to look out for. (See this review on my old cheese blog.)
And no Irish cheeseboard would be complete without a creamy, tangy Cashel Blue, one of the world’s, let alone Ireland’s finest blues. (There’s a sheep’s milk version called Crozier Blue, if you prefer sheep's milk cheeses.)
All you need to complete your board is some freshly baked Irish soda bread and maybe some oatcakes. (Waitrose has some good ones made by Ditty’s)
What to drink with it though? Well, you could go for a stout but I’m not sure I wouldn’t choose a sweet wine like Sauternes which will flatter the washed rind cheeses and the Cashel Blue. A tawny port would also be good or try a lightly diluted peaty Irish whiskey like Connemara’s Peated Single Malt.
Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden and Borough Market in London is the best place I’ve found to source Irish cheeses in the UK though good local cheese shops should have one or two. Picture taken in Sheridan's Dublin.
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