Cheesewhizzes visit the Green Isle

January 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm (Cheesewhizzes, Napa Valley) (, , , , )

Fancy sign made just for the event!

Fancy sign made just for the event!

Cheesewhizzes…Cheesewhizzes…oh, sweet sweet Cheesewhizzes!

I really can’t believe that I still enjoy these gatherings so much.  But, it seems that each one is so entirely different.

…new cheeses to try
             …new people to laugh with
                          …new locations to wander

The last Cheesewhizzes event was extra special.  Instead of a local winery hosting the event and everyone bringing a cheese and beverage to pair, the Cheesewhizzes hosted the event with Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in honor of the launch of Culture magazine – the first American magazine dedicated to the wondrous world of cheese.  Since the issue featured the famed cheese making region of Country Cork Ireland, it was decided to showcase the cheeses of Ireland…and no one had to bring anything but their fabulous self.

For $20 an attendee received five different Irish cheeses and two Napa Porter beers.  The cheeses were delivered on a plate with marcona almonds and fun chutneys and fruit paste.  The cheeses were:
1.  Tipperary Cheddar:  The land of Tipperary in south-central Ireland is known for its lush green pastures and mild climate, perfect for dairying. This mild cows milk cheddar is aged for 12 months and has a rich, creamy texture. The deep yellow color of the cheese comes from the beta carotene in the milk, a result of the fertile grasses that feed the grazing cows.

2.  Coolea: This smooth, caramelly, gouda-style, cows milk cheese is made by the Willems family in County Cork. Originally from Holland, the Willems brought their family recipe to the shamrock isle 20 years ago and have married the Dutch traditions and Irish terroir perfectly. It is aged for 12 months (at least).


 3.  Gubbeen: The Ferguson family is a marriage of mother Giana, from Spain, and Tom, from an Irish farming family. They are producing cheese as well as smoked meats in an impressive family farm operation. Gubbeen is a surface-ripened, semi-soft cows milk cheese with flavors of mushroom and cream beneath its delicate pink and white rind.


 4.  Ardrahan: Made from the milk of their own cows, Mary, Eugene and son Gerald Burns of County Cork produce this beautiful washed rind cheese that is earthy, pungent and delicately salty. Each wheel is 2-3 lbs and is aged for up to 16 weeks.


5.  Cashel Blue: Also made in Tipperary, this glorious cows milk blue cheese tastes like Stilton mixed with butter. It is made by Louis and Jane Grubb, whose family have been dairy farmers in Ireland for 300 years. This cheese, however, has only been made since 1984 after the Grubbs noted how popular the soft Danish blue cheeses were. The wheels are moist, aged for 6 months and made from the milk of their own herd.

My personal favorite was the Coolea – loved the caramelly nuances and rich flavor.  The cheddar was delicious as well as the Cashel and most people I asked said these were their favorites.  Some felt that the Gubbeen and Adrahan were a little too funky.  I personally enjoyed them…especially because they were at their prime ripeness.  But, all are worth a try!

The only thing missing from this Cheesewhizzes event was the fun of having the left over cheese and the reason to get together for a night of Mac and Cheese.  But, life always has sacrifices!

All the yummy Cheeses!




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