On the Cheese Slate | Kerrygold Irish Dubliner

“The classic flavor combination brings out the sweet, nutty, rich flavor of Dubliner and swirls and tumbles it together with the malty, caramel, bitter flavor of a perfect ping of Irish Stout.”

Yes, it does indeed do all that.

Cows roam freely on emerald pastures allowing for rich milk for cheese (and of course my house butter, Kerrygold). Like all other Kerrygold cheeses, Dubliner is made with summer milk from grass-fed cows, using traditional methods. Aging for at least a year, the cheese develops the elements of a mature Cheddar, the sweet nuttiness of a Swiss and the piquant bite of aged Parmesan. It’s a little cheddary a little smooth–all with a rounded flavor and a bit of sweetness. With a pint of your favorite microbrew or cider it is simply lovely for a plougman’s lunch on a rainy Sunday by the fire.

Region: Ireland

Milk: Cow

Age: 12 months

Pairing: Stout (beer)

Images: Kerrygold.com

Additional ideas:

Ploughman's sandwich2



On the Slate | Mahon Reserva

Standing in the understudy role for Manchego is this intense and bold.  Traditionally, the orange rindcolor comes from the six-pound wheels being rubbed in a mixture of butter, Spanish paprika and oil. Aged for 12 months, which earns it the “reserva” name, in the caves on the island of  Menorca in the Balearic Islands this hard cheese, carries a salty, buttery, sweet nutty  character to its taste profile. The cheese crumbles like Parmigiano.  On tasting it I received a toasty sweetness like butterscotch with a peppery finish.  I’m told that this is less about the paprika and more about the amino acids that show up during the aging process. The younger version of this cheese is similar to a Gouda.  Really a delightful cheese that could trip up some, thinking it was a manchego.


Region/Country: Spain

Milk: Raw, Cow

Pairing:  Doppleback beer, bold red wine

On the Slate | Oriol de Montbrú

I was pleasantly surprised by this creamy buffalo milk cheese from Spain.  Pere and Imma, the cheese makers, who began making this cheese in 1989 with milk from their own herd at their farmhouse Montbrú in Moià, near Barcelona. Named after their son, Oriol, who has since taken over as cheesemaker.  This cheese is young and sweet with a medium texture that crumbles a bit.  Formed into small wheels it has a slight covering of blue-gray mold of Roquefort penicillin similar to Garrotxa, a pressed and hard goat cheese from Catalunya. Worth seeking out for its overall uniqueness and taste. Pair with a Saison or a light red or cava.

Region/Country: Catalunya/Catalonia | Spain

Milk: Water Buffalo

Pairings: Saison beer, light red wine, sparkling wine such as Spanish Cava 

On the Slate | Juustoleipa

“HOO-stah-lee-pah” or “you-stoy-lay-PA”

A fresh cheese specialty of Finland and Lapland, it is unique as it is made from cow and reindeer* (curious how a reindeer is milked…hmmm).  The cheesemaking process begins with the curds being drained and pressed into a flat, wooden platter with a rim.  This mold is placed in front of a fire until the outer layer is carmelized and toasted.  According to some sources this cheese is important culturally, playing an important role at holiday celebrations and the ever critical marriage tradition.  It goes that mothers of eligible women would offer prospects a cup of coffee with Juustoleipa and if the man was taken by the cheese he also won a wife.  Ah, simpler times!

The Finnish call this buttery cheese, “squeaky cheese”  however the  proper name, means  “cheese bread” given for the toast like appearance of the surface when this curing process is completed.  The overall taste is creamy and smooth with a crusty exterior surface.  As it is a fresh cheese it only ripens for a few days.  Traditionally served at breakfast or as a dessert  with cream and cloudberry jam.  Here in the U.S. I’ve been seeing it featured more and more as the centerpiece for grilled cheese or for in a macaroni and cheese.  It is beast served warm.

Country: Finland

Milk: Cow and Reindeer (!)

Texture: Semi-Hard

*note, this cheese when from Wisconsin, which is equally enjoyable, does not have reindeer milk (as if this wasn’t obvious!)


Grilled Juustoleipa Mac & Cheese Salad 

Baked Juustoleipa Sticks

On the Slate | Sir Francis Drake

Name: Sir Francis Drake

Milk: Triple-cream, pasteurized cow’s milk

Creamery: Cowgirl Creamery

Origin: Northern California

$/lb: $28.00

Today’s slate features a seasonal and somewhat hard to find triple-cream beauty from Cowgirl Creamery, Sir Francis Drake. This cheese a washed-rind is derived from Mt. Tam.

There’s a bit of lore it seems on how this cheese is created. And while all cheese is a happy accident I don’t think this cheese just shows up mistakenly. While I have a few calls to further untangle the mystery, here’s what I’ve come to understand.

While making Mt. Tam, an smooth, elegant triple cream, a culture goes astray. In turn the cheesemaker will then wash the outside in a dessert wine. In researching, friend, cheese lover and former cheese monger over at Grub Report revealed the specifics: its rind is washed in a fortified wine, Beaume de Venise. For the finish, pressed and macerated currants are sprinkled on top. This cheese carries a smooth texture. Also it is not as stinky as a Red Hawk but does have a nice funk. So in short, it’s available only a few times a year, when the culture for Mt. Tam is not cooperating. Get it when you see it.

Oddly, there is not a mention on Cowgirl Creamery’s website and they’ve been making this cheese for about six years it seems. Are we trying to climb to cult status? And to add more allure, it’s only available locally. Also, many cheese mongers around town have told me they keep an active waiting list of folks who want to be notified as soon as it shows up. Now I know why.

Beer Pairing: North Coast Brewing Acme IPA