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Public Service Announcement: Irish Cheese

7.August 2011

All of you (and that sadly includes me) who aren’t living in Ireland and eating Irish cheese every day are MISSING OUT.

While in Ireland last week, I gorged myself on Irish cheese at most meals (breakfast certainly – who wants naked Soda Bread? Well, actually that’s not a bad thing, but it does make a good vehicle for cheese. Frequently before and/or after dinner with generous pours of wine from my very kind uncle and aunt-in-law.) Now, I don’t really think of Ireland when I think of cheese, but when you take into consideration the vast number of cows clambering over rocks and happily mowing the grass of all those big, empty, green fields, and the delicious white-white creamy milk, it makes sense.

We took a little overnight trip with Dan’s mum to the Western coast (more on that later) and finished by driving out to Dingle for a walk around town. We came across a tiny shop named, appropriately, The Little Cheese Shop, and I’m not one to walk past a cheese shop, so we ducked in to buy a little thank you for our hosts (the aforementioned in-laws).  It is a tiny shop, but chock full of things that warm my heart and pad my stomach.

We opted for three cheeses – a Dingle goat’s cheese, the shop’s own Truffle Cheese, and a small wedge of the shop’s own Dilliskus.

The goat’s cheese was delightful – a little firmer than the spreadable kind I’m accustomed to and with a slightly subtler bite.  One has the impression that the goats who graze around Dingle are happier – less sour, if you will – than American goats.

The Truffle Cheese was something else – it’s a dried cow’s milk cream cheese filled with pepper and a little garlic and with an almost ashy rind.  The initial flavor is mild but sturdy, but then the cracked pepper assaults you.  It’s not unpleasant (it was Dan’s favorite), but is strong.  It goes exceptionally well with a bold red wine – Zinfandel or Pinot Noir.

Finally, the Dilliskus (That’s it on the right!) was my favorite.  It’s also a cow’s milk cheese, but it’s hard instead of creamy, with a powdery rind and that semi-transparency in the outer layer that you sometimes see with Parmesan.  The trick to this cheese is that it’s shot through with a red-brown seaweed which gives it an earthy flavor. I’d also be tempted to ascribe the cheese’s almost aggressive but pleasant saltiness to the seaweed’s influence as well, but I don’t know if that’s accurate.  This cheese stinks, but the taste is milder.  Basically, I could eat pounds of it, sliced thin so as to savor the crunch of the drier spots of seaweed.  If anyone knows about where I can find this cheese in the States, I’d be grateful.  Because I’m not sure life will be complete without it, now I know it exists.

Also, it’s slightly less exotic than shop-made artisanal local milk cheese from Dingle, but we also quite enjoyed thick, salty slices of Dubliner (actually made in Cork) on top of thickly buttered soda bread.  We may also have been enjoying this since we came home after discovering that a block of Dubliner and a loaf of soda bread snuck into our suitcase.  We categorically deny all knowledge of how these products made their way here and through customs.

If you’re near Dingle – you lucky duck, you – go visit. The Little Cheese Shop is on Grey’s Lane in Dingle town (opposite the library).

One Comment leave one →
  1. 21.September 2011 18:33

    That Mac and Cheese looks delish! :)

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