After an awesome trip in the south of Ireland, meeting all the cheesemakers, catching up with my friend Matt, and geeking out with Dimitri; we made it to Dublin. For the tales of our irish cheese adventures, read Dimitri’s posts on Gubbeen, Durrus, and Milleens (here) and then on Coolea, Cooleeney, and Cashel and Crozier (here). As soon as we made it to Dublin, our first stop was at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in South Anne Street, unfortunately it was close on sunday and Dimitri didn’t have the chance to see their amazing selection. So, we ended up sharing a pint of Guinness in preparation for a great dinner with other friends of mine from my Ireland days (I will write about that meal for Letras Libres in an upcoming post on their gastroblog).
Next morning, Dimitri left to go back to the United States and I went back to Sheridan’s to buy cheese for my trip to China. At the shop, there was a gouda knife waiting for me as a present from Seamus Sheridan. He, as I have said it before, along with Sarah Bates are my mentors. The knife has a distinct weight to it and when I grabbed it I remember so many days behind the counter in the Galway shop. After talking about cheese for so many days and visiting farms, I was still not tired of learning more of the new cheeses from Ireland. Donal was the monger that day and he helped me pick up some Hegarty’s Cheddar made by Dan and John Hegarty in Cork, Glebe Brethan by David and Mairead Tiernan in Co. Louth, Knockdrinna Goats and a Knockdrinna Meadow made in Co. Kilkenny by Helen Finnegan, and Cratloe Hills by Sean and Deidre Fitzgerald in Co. Clare. All these cheeses were aimed to last me for a long time in cheese-deprived Xi’an. I have to say that some made the trip better than others, but overall, the taste of all of them was so delicious that we made it a small event every time that we open another little package.
Being in the South Anne Street shop, made me think about the importance of the place where you first learn about cheese. As a monger, I think that all of the things learnt in Sheridan’s now inform the way Lactography works and also our way of relating to our farmers. Seamus, Kevin, and Fionna have done something unique in Ireland, which has allowed for growth of an industry while still maintaining integrity in their business model. Unlike other cheese stores around the world, they have not compromise in supporting farmer’s lives in an effort to make a greater profit. In all our conversations with cheesemakers, we only heard praise for them and for the way they have done things. I am happy to be an alumni of them.
Next stop, we will hear from Anthony about opening a new cheese store in Australia, stories from the cheese life in NYC from Dimitri, and an upcoming piece about my cheese book project. On the Spanish side of the blog, Georgina will write about her trip to the cheese caves of Quesos Coita. Stay tuned and folllow us on twitter and facebook for constant updates.