St. Paddy’s Day is nearly here, and what better way to celebrate than by showcasing some beloved Irish cheeses? The Irish have a long history with all things dairy, and curds are no exception. Whether it’s paired with a hearty stout, added to your corned beef and cabbage, or eaten on its own, an Irish wheel is a must-have on March 17. Here are five to try:
Gleann Óir—produced by Cooleeney Farm—literally means “Golden Vale” in Irish. It’s a term used to describe Ireland’s lush dairy farming lands in three counties: Tipperary (where Cooleeney is based), Cork, and Limerick. Matured up to nine months, this hard, natural-rinded goat’s milk cheese offers a range of flavors that change as it ages, but one constant is the hint of sweetness from the milk. Try pairing it with an Irish cider or Viognier.
The Cahill family has been producing cheese for three generations, and its Irish Porter Cheese is one of its most distinct products. Based near Newcastle West in County Limerick, Cahill’s started crafting this cheese in 1991. The wheel is truly an Irish creation, featuring porter brewed by Guinness. The beer is added to the curd after it’s been formed and the whey’s been drained off, giving it its unmistakable marbled paste. Cahill’s suggests grating this cheese over mashed potatoes or pairing it with a dark ale.
This semi-soft cow’s milk cheese by Ardrahan Farmhouse Cheese hails from Kanturk in southern Ireland’s County Cork. Lucky for the Burns family, who have been making cheese since 1983, Ireland’s temperate and damp, maritime climate is ideal for washed-rind wheels. Ardrahan is washed with salt water during aging to help mold growth, which ripens the cheese and ultimately gives it its washed rind. Unsurprisingly, Ardrahan gives off a pungent aroma, and it has meaty flavors of smoke and bacon.
Named after the majestic Rock of Cashel castle in County Tipperary, Cashel Blue is a semi-soft whole cow’s milk cheese. Created in 1984 by Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers owners Jane and Louis Grubb, this award-winning blue is described as a softer, creamier alternative to Stilton. When young, the cheese is firm and possesses a slightly sharp flavor. As it ages, Cashel Blue develops a melt-in-your-mouth texture and mellower notes.
As the name suggests, this cheese by Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese is smoked with local beech wood, imparting a delicate, buttery, and mild flavor. Produced in the village of Carrigaline in East Cork by Anne and Pat O’Farrell, this semi-soft cow’s milk cheese has a texture similar to Havarti. Enjoy Beech Smoked Cheese alone, add it to a sandwich, or wash it down with an Irish red ale.
Feature Photo Credit: Cahill’s Farm