This morning, over a huge mug of black coffee, Z gave me a present. This was completely out of the blue. It's not my birthday for an other month, our wedding anniversary is also in April, and there are no Hallmark holidays knocking around at the moment.
Z, bless her, had bought me membership for Homage 2 Fromage, Leeds' very own cheese club. I've been going to the monthly cheese tasting nights for a couple of months but I was in two minds about becoming a fully paid up member. Even though the perks of memberships are good (discounts at some of the finest cheese emporiums in Leeds and cheap entry to the cheese nights themselves) I wasn't sure I wanted to make the commitment. Fortunately Z knows me better than I know myself.
I happily walked into town with my new membership card in-tow, not really knowing what to expect from Irish cheese. I was in for an eye watering treat. My limited experience of Irish cheese in the past was some rather disappointing cheddar. Tonight none of the past rubberiness was on display. Vickie and Nick (the grand fromages) managed to source four fantastic cheeses including; Cashel Blue, Gubbeen - a soft and mild cows milk cheese washed in wine, and Boilie - small balls of goats cheese which are stored in oil with garlic and herbs.
The fourth cheese falls into the "cheese-gimmick" category. It was a Porter cheese made with Irish stout. I'm not keen on cheese with *insert non cheese item here* at the best of times. Often it's fruit and I tend to avoid it as I'm always disappointed. But I was here to taste cheese so I gave it a go. The cheese itself was inoffensive, a mild cheddar stained brown with the stout. My biggest problem with this type of cheese is that the balance is never right. The stout needed to be much more prominent and in your face, this in turn would require a more robust cheese, but then I am no cheese maker.
Fortunately, Richard Bissett from Cooleeney IS a cheese maker. He brought three cheeses with him for us to try tonight. Durrus and Gortnamona were both great cheeses, Durrus was probably my favourite cheese of the night. But the one that everybody was talking about come the end of the night was Cooleeney Farm House cheese. I'm not sure what it was that made it so magical. It was so soft it should have been melted but it was fresh from the pack. The rind was reminiscent of camembert without being quite so pungent and the cheese itself so was beautifully creamy. The fact that it almost ran off the biscuits added an extra bit of fun and jeopardy to the evening.