Many wonderful things come from the land of the leprechauns! Here are a few of my favorites:
My best gal pal Lolly
Denis Lynch (our very own @thespiritofcork on Twitter)
Throughout the year we carry a number of Irish beauties here at Vine & Table from Gubbeen to Vintage Cheddar. But I’d like to introduce you (or re-introduce for some) to Ireland’s first blue cheese, Cashel Blue.
Cashel Blue was first produced in 1984 by the Grubb family in County Tipperary in south-central Ireland. This year they expect to export 60 tons of Cashel Blue to the US alone! Cashel Blue is used by well-known chefs from around the world and has graced the tables of The Dublin Castle, The White House and No.10 Downing Street.
Made from pasteurized cow’s milk and vegetable rennet, this cheese is suitable for vegetarians. The flavor profile changes as the cheese ages. When it is young, it is lightly salty and tangy. Older wheels have a richer, mellower flavor with a zesty spiciness to them. Visually, Cashel Blue has a beige base with splotches of gray, blue and green molds. When it is young, the texture is firm and crumbly becoming creamy as it ages. Cashel Blue is aged for a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks but often for up to 12 weeks. The longer it is aged the stronger the “blue” taste.
So many wonderful things can be done with this cheese when it comes to cooking. It’s nearly time to pull out the grill so imagine a medium rare juicy steak with Cashel Blue melted over the top! Or and opened faced ham sandwich with caramelized onions and Cashel Blue. Add it to your cheese board with fresh figs, pears walnuts, a drizzle of honey and a French baguette. The Cashel Blue website provides some amazing recipes. Below you will find the one I will be trying in the near future! It is a Wild Mushroom and Cashel Blue Toasties, perfect as an appetizer for my movie club!
Now let’s talk drink pairings!
When it comes to wines, dessert wines would be the best, but many “New World” sweet wines work nicely as well. Try a Sauterne from Bordeaux or a Tawny Port; both are great matches. If you are looking at pairing a red, make sure that it has some age to it and not a lot of vanilla notes, as these will overwhelm the cheese.
As far as beer and spirits are concerned, Chimay Blue, the Trappist Belgian ale is AMAZING with this cheese. And Connemara Whiskey from Ireland pairs beautifully. Try a sparkling pear juice for the non-alcohol drinker.
For being such a “young” cheese, at not even 30 years old, Cashel Blue proves to be in it for the long run and it can holds its own against more well-known Gorgonzola Dolce and Castello Blue!
So now tell us, how do you enjoy Cashel Blue? We would love to hear your recipe ideas.
Wild Mushroom and Cashel Blue Toasties
By Kevin Dundon
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 shallots, finely chopped
350 g/12 ounces forest mushrooms, sliced (such as chantarelle, oyster and shitake)
120 ml/4 ounces white wine
120 ml/4 ounces cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, basil and chives)
1 French baguette, cut into 12 slices on the diagonal (ends discarded)
25 g/1 ounce butter, diced (at room temperature)
100 g/4 ounces Cashel Blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Preheat a heavy-based griddle pan. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes until softened but not colored. Tip in the mushrooms, season generously and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes until tender. Pour the wine into the pan and reduce by half. Stir in the cream and herbs and cook for a few minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.
Meanwhile, add the slices of bread to the heated griddle pan and toast until marked on both sides. Remove from the heat and drizzle a little olive oil over each one.
Remove the mushroom and cream mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter, then fold in the Cashel blue cheese until just beginning to melt.
Arrange the toasts on warmed serving plates and spoon the wild mushroom and Cashel blue cream on top. Garnish with the parsley.