Monday, March 30, 2009

Curing and Washing Cheese at Gubbeen

This last week went by faster then the others. We made cheese four days this week at Gubbeen. I was able to spent some more time with Rose, head cheese maker, learning when the cheese is ready to be molded. When I wasn't helping with cheese making I was helping with curing and washing the cheese, which creates the rind of the cheese. As the cheese matures we do different steps to help with the rind growth. I was also able to experiment with two small batches of cheese this week - pictured above. I was very happy with my results. Let's hope they taste good!

On Saturday and Sunday I was able to get out and go for a bike ride through the hilly country side of West Cork. I am getting ready for another week of cheese making and hopefully some side trips to another cheese factory.

Monday, March 23, 2009

St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

Last week was St. Patrick's Day, and nowhere on earth is this holiday celebrated with more gusto than in its home country of Ireland.  To participate in the festivities (which is of course a national holiday - no working allowed!), I went up to the city of Cork, the second largest city in Ireland for its St. Patrick's Day parade. The streets were full of people and it was quite the spectacle.

Then it was back to work the next day. The rest of the week I helped out in the cheese factory, focusing most of my attention on the curing of the Gubbeen Cheese.  I made two small batches of cheese again this week and with the help of Giana, I am making great progress, but I still need to do a little fine tuning.  

On Saturday morning I caught a bus for Galway, a city on the western coast of Ireland. In Galway, I met up with Seamus Sheridan of Sheridans Cheesemongers (photos above). I spent the afternoon in his cheese shop learning and sampling cheeses from Ireland and around Europe. To top the day off, I watched Ireland defeat Wales in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament to Win the Grand Slam. I was able to make some contacts in others cheese factories around Ireland who I hope to start visiting this week. Until next time!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Out and About in Ireland

This past Friday and Saturday I did a little experimenting with some cheese making. I made two small batches on the stove here in Ireland. I am hoping to make a St. Paulin style cheese -- it is a semi-hard washed rind with a mild nutty flavor. I did have some luck with it, but I still need to perfect the recipe. Giana and I will work on the cheese later this week. 

This weekend we finally got some nice warm sunny weather so I was able to get out and walk around the country. Enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Making Cheese at Gubbeen

The last three days I have been working in the cheese factory at Gubbeen. On Monday and Tuesday we are making two vats a day, both 2,000 liters which is just over 4,500 lbs of milk per vat. On Wednesday and Thursday we are just making one vat a day. 

Gubbeen Cheese has been produced since 1979 by Giana Ferguson, with Rosie and the Gubbeen dairy team. It has been enjoyed across Ireland, Europe and America, and has won some of the key cheese awards both in Ireland and England. Gubbeen Cheese is a surface ripened, semi-soft cheese with a delicate pink and white rind that is developed in Gubbeen's curing rooms by daily washing and a lot of skilled care.

We will be making more cheese later in the season. 

I have learned a number of things already about cheese making and affinage.  I am able to spend a fair amount of time with Giana one on one. I am still planning parts of my training out right now. I have many visits to local cheese factories and shops in the works. Hopefully they work out. I also will be making some small batches of cheese on my own over the stove where I will be able to experiment a little. I'll write again later this week!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Arriving in Ireland

I arrived at Gubbeen cheese near West Cork, Ireland on Thursday, March 5,  after a long flight and little sleep.  I have not done any cheese making yet, because during this time of year, the folks at Gubbeen don't make cheese on Friday. So instead I traveled to a couple farmer markets in the local towns to do some sight seeing and taste different styles of cheese. 

I'm looking forward to spending time here at Gubeen and I'll be here for about seven weeks. I'm looking forward to spending time on the farm and then in the cheese house with Giana. 

Some history about Gubeen cheese: as a child in Spain, Giana's family had made cheese from goats milk on her father's small farm in the mountains above Alora. Later, living in France Giana was brought into contact with the great french cheeses.

Marrying into a farming family in Ireland, where some of the best milk in Europe is produced, Giana and her husband Tom experimented and produced their own cottage cheeses and fresh cheeses. They soon met other cheesemakers working both in West Cork and nationally. This developed into CAIS, the Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers Guild.

Tom and Giana Ferguson currently make the cheese. Fingal, their son has recently opened a second business on the premises smoking meats and producing hams, rashers, sausages, salamis as well as planning his own range of pates, etc. Clovisse, their daughter is the newest addition to the business supplying local restaurants and shops with her organic vegetables and herbs. Fingal also uses Clovisse's herbs in his traditional cures.

I'm looking forward to spending the next several weeks here and will write again soon!