Green grass makes orange cheese. Well, that’s mostly true. See, if you accept the idea that you are what you eat, a ruminants (lactose producing mammals such as sheep, goats and cows) diet is reflected in the quality of their milk and subsequent cheese. It makes sense that the high level of beta-carotene, like what’s found in spring’s lush green (or Ireland’s) fields, yields the naturally rich amber hues found in butters and cheeses.
Alternatively, if the captivating color (or a good diet) is not there, it can be created to fool the eye. Simply pulverize the almost flavorless South American Annatto seed and add to the milk to tint the cheese color to your desired hue. No, orange, really deep orange cheeses, are not “real.” They have been tinted to mask the actual color and quality of the milk. In many ways they are like (in men’s fashion) a comb-over or real hair wig. The truth is hiding in plain sight to those who know better.
Ireland’s Milk Marketing board gets to promote rich amber hued butters and cheeses year round and toot their proverbial flute (or play the lyre) as producers of varied cheeses, cheeses that need no adulteration. Sadly, as consumers we see the majority of these cheeses just one time of the year –St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not that Gubeen (Little Mouth) and Daru are not made other times of the year. They are just imported when Americans are ready for them.
Coolea is the Irish farmhouse version of Gouda that rarely gets a spotlight against the mountain of Gouda cheeses imported from Holland. Cashel Blue, a perennial Irish delight, shines like a beacon of sustainability and creamy blue attraction. Toasted Soda Bread and Cashel Blue under the broiler for a moment can make even a non-blue cheese eater a devotee. Durrus, a washed rind gem, can clear a room of people with aromas more akin to gym socks than sea swept green fields. To lovers of aromatic cheeses, it is a treasure.
Kerry Gold and the Irish Milk Marketing board gets their deserved moment in the proverbial sun this time of year with a cheese portfolio of larger production cheeses turned with Irish Whisky, and alternatively, Stout and Dubliner. All of them are good, but Dubliner is a gemstone in their lineup and easy to enjoy melted into a sandwich.
You are what you eat as the saying goes. Now is the time to explore Irish cheeses and skip the stereotype of American foods that are characterized as cheap, fast and processed. Choose real Irish cheeses for St. Patrick and you.