American Cheeses with an Irish Lilt

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

Good morgan to you! As my own Irish grandmother would say.

For most of us Americans, St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday mostly occupied by parades full of creepy leprechauns, bagpipers, green outfits, and beer drinking. But we at Saxelby Cheesemongers say hey, why not toss a little cheese into the mix this year just to shake things up a bit? Though we may not carry any Irish cheese, per se, we have a few that have been inspired by our be-freckled cohorts across the Atlantic.

In particular, there are two cheeses from Cato Corner Farm that merit a shout out on this most Irish of days…

Brigid’s Abbey, a raw cows’ milk cheese that is Cato’s most popular at market, got its name from the Irish patron saint of milkmaids. According to historical accounts, Saint Brigid herself did not much enjoy the beer and hoopla which now surrounds St. Patricks’ Day, though she was a follower of his other more wholesome teachings. In fact, legend has it that she was pretty much booted out of her house after her overly good and charitable soul started to dispense with the family’s milk and other comestibles to all the local beggars. Brigid’s cheese is a fine one indeed, a sweet and slightly tangy tomme with a rustic dusty rind that tastes like toasted almonds and grass.

Hooligan, an aptly named little stinker of a cheese, is made from the same recipe as Brigid’s Abbey; but where Brigid has gone the way of mild, unimposing saintly cheeses, the Hooligan has taken a turn to the pungent dark side as a result of how it is aged. Hooligans are washed-rind cheeses, meaning that as they ripen, they are given a good rub down twice a week with a salty brine solution. However, this washing doesn’t clean them up in any way, no sir. In fact, it allows them to develop a moist, orange rind that stinks to high… well, you get the idea. That wonderous funk, coupled with the thick creamy texture of the cheese makes it an ideal match for a piece of dark bread and a Guinness or two.

So, whether you are feeling pious or mischievous this Saint Patty’s Day, there is a cheese out there to fit your mood or go head to head with that frosty mug o’ beer.

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