Sunday, March 28, 2010

Irish cheese

I cannot believe that I just got a cooleeney mini. I am so excited to have a true Irish cheese in my plate. Irish cheese rocks!!!

So, I guess it is time to let people know where did this crazy cheese passion started. As I normally tell the story, it was the day that my dad gave me a wheel of cheese for my 13th birthday that my love for cheese started.

He, being the amazing dad that he was, a man before his time, on the day of my 13th birthday in 1991, just before the first Iraq war started, gave me a "cow" for present. The real gift was the production of milk of one cow for a year in the form of one wheel of cheese a year. He was supporting the first CSA in Mexico in a time when climate change was just a high level discussion in European capitals and food security was not yet related to the current idea of Chinese food sovereignty over ensuring enough rice grain to support the population of that country.

The wheel of cheese was of Queso Añejo, made in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes and the flavor was amazing. Sharp in flavor and stinky in smell, bounded by cheesecloth secured by lard and aged for 8 months. My mom would cut it carefully and only let me cut a piece the days that I had eaten my vegetables and meat. Back then I was a cheesaterian, only eating cheese - refusing to eat veggies, meat and sugars.

After this early encounter with cheese, I would go back to eating processed cheese, including spray cheddar cheese, until one day after college when me and Will took a class at the Boston Center for Adult Education with the head buyer of Formaggio's and tried amazing Italian, French, and American cheese. It is from this time that we still eat Pecorino Rosso, rubbed with tomato and Cenapata, a quince paste spiked with mustard seeds.

From this moment on, cheese returned to my diet and has not left. But where I really learned about flavor, texture, smell and craftsmanship was in Ireland. Under the guidance of Sarah Bates and Kevin Sheridan at Sheridan's Cheesemongers in Ireland.

There, I learned to love Durrus and Sarah taught me to choose the best wheels. I understand the complexity of Ardrahan and the need for it to keep moist, and the heritage of Cooleeney. I'm sad to not have access to Milleenns and Mt. Calhan here in the US. But above all, I miss my Irish customers and their way to ask in Irish for their cheese and their apologetic way for not liking a French cheese and always taking the Irish option.


  1. Hi Carlos,
    Great to see and hear of you again!
    You were a brilliant cheesemonger and we'd gladly have you back anytime! Do keep in touch and all the best from everyone here in sheridans
    good luck

  2. Fiona, thank you so much for reading and your support. I miss Ireland, Sheridan's and all of you, hope to be back soon. Carlos.