Friday, March 25, 2011

Upcoming class: American Cheese Politics

Blue States v Red States: American Cheese Politics

It is always about local politics, isn't it? Come and join us for a night of cheese, wine and politics, as Carlos Yescas introduces you to the issues behind the plate. The class will feature five cheeses made in blue and red states to compare the craftsmanship of the parties and then vote for your favorite. Carlos is researching a PhD in Politics and has been twice an International Supreme Judge at the World Cheese Awards.

Where: Lucy's Whey Chelsea Market in NYC, 425 West 15th St., New York, NY 10011

When: Apr 14, 6:30PM

Price: US$ 30.00

Tickets on sale at 212.463.9500

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Irish

Glebe Brethan is a thermophilic cheese made from unpasteurised Montbeliarde cow’s milk at the Tiernan Family Farm, Dunleer, Co Louth. The Montbeliarde breed originates in the Jura region of eastern France and is used for its rich nutrients in Comté production. David Tiernan has only been making Glebe since 2004. It is an astonishing achievement to have developed a cheese of this calibre in such a short time. This Gruyere / Comté-style cheese is made in 45 kg wheels and aged on spruce timbers for between 6 and 18 months. The natural rind develops over time and as the cheese is turned and salted by hand. The flavour is rich and fruity with herbal, floral notes and occasional hints of cellar where the rind flavours have penetrated the paste. It is often punctuated by pleasantly bitter notes of chicory. With age the paste develops meaty undertones and a distinctively nutty finish.

Glebe is made on a very small scale and is sold exclusively on the Irish market. David produces just two wheels per day and only during the summer months. He does all the work himself from start to finish – including mlking his herd of pedigree cows. David is a brilliant and fascinating character. Ask him a question and the answer with generally begin with: “Well, I’ll tell you, there’s a story behind that....”

Try Glebe with an oaked French chardonnay or the oxidative Savagnin-based wines of Franche-Comté.

For more information visit

Lucy Noami Moylan.

Thanks to Lucy for her contributions. We are delighted to have her and hope to bring her back in the future, maybe a post in Irish? For now, those are just six of the most amazing Irish cheeses around. There are more around and you should try them all. Consider a trip to Ireland and support local agriculture.

Best, Lactography.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A sibling cheese

Crozier Blue is a sheep's milk blue cheese from Co. Tipperary. It is made by the Grubb family in Beechmount Farm. Sarah is now in charge of most of the operation, she is the daughter of Jane and Louis and the person responsible for making Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue available outside of Ireland. Like many second-generation cheese makers in Ireland, Sarah has set the vision of the company to expand beyond farmer's markets and sales in Ireland and England. She has been able to do this by balancing act of meeting a growing demand with a limited supply by automizing some of the procedures in making her cheese. In the case of these two gorgeous blue cheeses, the piercing of the wheels has been turn into a mechanical system and that allows for consistency in the production. This is good news for a small cheese makers, who has been gradually adapting and growing just as much as her milk production would mantain.

I personally love Crozier, because unlike Roquefort it is less salty and easier to pair with food. Roquefort is the standard of comparison for blue sheep's milk cheeses, however, that comparison misses the mark as Roquefort is not only a blue cheese, it is also a cultural production that grows and develops in caves with very specific conditions. The taste of Roquefort is more mineral than Crozier, this minerality can be described as a slight tingling inside of the mouth with an after taste of salt, almost like when licking a piece of rock salt. Crozier is in turn, less mineral, maybe even more fatty and moist than Roquefort, making it a milder cheese.

I love eating Crozier with quince paste or apple preserve. It is great for cooking too and can easily be used as a "gateway" blue cheese for those folks who find more intense blue cheeses intimidating. For more information visit their page here. You can also watch this Irish TV piece on the cheese at

The other cheese made my the Grubbs is Cashel Blue. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @CashelBlue and make sure you like them on facebook:

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Goat farmers Tom and Lena Beggane were taught the art of cheesemaking by a Dutch neighbour. They started making Clonmore at their farm in the heart of Cork hurling country, Newtownshandrum, outside Charleville, in the late 1990s. It is handmade using milk from their tiny, free range herd of goats. The Begganes are at the heart of the new wave of lesser known Irish cheesemakers who have broken away from the classic Irish washed rind tradition to explore other styles.

The Begganes’ goats are fortunate enough to enjoy some of the finest grazing in the heart of the Golden Vale. This pasture, more usually associated with dairy farming, lends wonderful richness to their cheese. Tom and Lena are part of that dying breed of Irish cheesemakers who are still involved in the maintenance of their own herd. The majority of Irish farmhouse cheesemakers nowadays prefer to buy their milk from one or two well-trusted local sources. The combination of farming and cheesemaking is extremely demanding in terms of time and patience. Anyone still willing to commit themselves wholeheartedly to both should be greatly admired. The Begganes also run their herd in coincidence with the animals’ natural lactation cycle, allowing the goats to dry out at the end of November and resuming cheesemaking in March. This is a less profitable, more labour intensive business model but ultimately results happier animals and higher quality cheese.

Clonmore is a small, gouda shaped cheese with a beige waxed exterior and a bone white paste that is intermittently freckled with small holes. At its best the cheese is milky on the palate with a mild tang that gently gives way to the unmistakable rounded, goaty finish that typifies Clonmore. It is neither sharp nor soapy yet presents a distinctive and smooth flavour. Clonmore is one of those cheeses that is better served below room temperature. It has a tendency to become slightly oily if unrefrigerated. It partners well with scaled down wines. Enjoy with a traditional Chablis or a good Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. This is undoubtedly one of the rarer Irish cheeses. In all of my international food travels with the export department of Neal’s Yard, I’ve never seen it outside Ireland. I therefore highly recommend that you call into Sheridans Cheesemongers for a sample next time you’re visiting!

Lucy Noami Moylan.

Thanks to Lucy for this collaboration. You can follow her on twitter at @lucymoylan. She is also the mastermind behind Sheridan’s Cheesemongers online presence @SheridansCheese. When not mongering cheese knowledge, Lucy works as a translator (Irish-English) and soon she will be a great ambassador for her country!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.
Carlos, Lactographer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Second generation Irish

Coolea is a gouda-style made in Co. Cork in the south-west of Ireland. Originally one of the “big four,” this cheese has been made since 1979 by the Willems. Since, 1991 Dicky the son of the original cheesemakers, Helene and Dick, took over the family business. The cheese is now easy to find in the United States as it travels well and the sweetness, classic of this style, is really appealing.

Unlike other gouda-style cheeses, Coolea has enough flavor from excellent milk, that it can be aged up to two years. At that time it turns into a complex and nutty taste that is excellent to pair with a stout. The Willems also make an herb and garlic flavored type that is delicious with salads or just in a sandwich. The texture of the young rounds is creamy, while the aged ones are firmer but still elastic. I remember selling it to people looking for a good table cheese that can be eaten while cooking.

Gouda is the quintessential Dutch cheese, and while Boerenkaas (the raw milk version) is second to none, many artisanal gouda-style cheeses made outside of The Netherlands are better than commercial stuff produce at home. This is the case of Coolea, which takes its flavor from amazing milk coming from cows pastured in the lush hills of Ireland.

The reason Gouda and gouda-style cheeses are so popular among cheesemakers, perhaps has to do with the easiness to age and transport them. This means that they are a safe bet for steady income sources. Originally, according to Harbutt, this ability to travel without rotting was what made Dutch Goudas famous in France and with travelers sailing around the world. Nowadays, probably the reason is that the sweetness of the cheese and the potential to be flavored gives it a wide market among consumers in places where stinky or blue cheeses have a hard time selling.

For more info on Coolea visit:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First Irish

Milleens is recognized as the first farmhouse artisan cheese of the dairy revolution. Veronica Steele, who is a very active lady, developed this cheese in 1976. It is a washed rind that was a favored style at the beginning of the movement in Ireland along with Durrus and Ardrahan.

When ripe, Milleens is runny with a pungent earthy smell, soft in texture and piquant in the tongue. It is always a gorgeous orange color and perfect to pair with nuts, cornichons, and some English mustard for a very strong-flavor lunch.

For more on the farm and cheese visit their site: or like their facebook site or Culture’s profile: Milleens.
You can follow Veronica on twitter at @veronicasteele

The cheeses selected to be feature this week are: Milleens, Coolea, Crozier, Clonmore and Glebe Brehan. Lucy N. Moylan, formerly of Neal’s Yard Dairy in England and now working for Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in Ireland, recommended them as uniquely Irish.

We will have her write up the entries for Clonmore and Glebe Brehan and hopefully tell us a little bit about her experience as a monger in Dublin and London.

Juliet Harbutt in her “World Cheese Book” list twenty-one Irish cheeses. Càis lists thirty-two dairy farms and Sheridan’s sells twenty including Cratloe Hills, Gabriel, Killeen Cow and Goat, Knockanore Smoked and Wicklow Blue Brie not included by Dianne Curtin contributor of the Irish section of Harbutt’s book.

I point out this to highlight the wide variety of cheeses that do not make it outside of local markets and can only be enjoyed near the places where they are produced and therefore it is hard to find information on them. This is the case too with many cheeses from Latin America, new cheeses from the US and very local examples of French, Spanish and Italian cheeses produced seasonally or ad-hoc depending on milk ability.

Cheese like many other artisanal foods is best consumed close to the source. This is specially true for washed-rind cheeses that don't travel well in dry containers. Therefore, if you want to try them you ought to visit Ireland.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Irish Càis (cheese)

In honor of the country that first trained me in cheese and to their cheesemakers who are hurting from an economic downturn, I will feature one Irish cheese every day during this week to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Let me start with a little bit of Irish cheese history. Cheese in Ireland, like in many other colonial lands was brought by missionaries and was deeply linked to religious life. Monks made most cheeses for subsistence markets and remained localize to villages near big monasteries. Much like in England, industrial revolution brought pasteurization and consolidation of cheese making to large dairy companies.

It was only in the early 80’s that cheese production returned to farms, and with it the use of raw milk. Most cheeses during that time where made in County Cork and slowly other parts of the country have started to produce excellent cheese as well. There are a high number of cow’s milk cheeses, even if sheep are so familiar in the Irish landscape. In the Americas, the most common Irish cheese is commercial cheddar (think Dubliner), but increasingly in cheese stores you can find Cashel and Crozier Blue, Ardrahan and Coolea. They are all great, but Crozier around this time is just amazing!

My favorite Irish cheese is Durrus, however as of late it is very difficult to find a good round outside of Ireland. This raw cow’s milk cheese does not travel well in refrigerated containers and without proper washing. It also cannot wait to be eaten the 60 days required by the FDA to be brought to the US. I had one in London that was nutty and stinky and reminded me of cold rainy days working at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers sharing a cup of tea and a bite of creamy Durrus on fresh baked bread.

If you have the opportunity to travel to Ireland, check Durrus out and if you find Milleens, Desmond, Cooleney or Smoked Gubbeen also make sure to buy a big chunk and have them with a pint of Smithwick's

You can find more info on Artisanal cheeses from the Emerald island at: