I’ve fallen off the cheese wagon lately. Chalk it up to my move to Brooklyn and away from my apprenticeship at the inimitable Sprout Creek Farm. Though I live among a plethora of some of the country’s best cheese shops, I’ve been a very lazy taste-tester, existing in an existential state of cheese limbo.
However, I recently got my paws on a choice piece of Ardrahan, a wash-rind, semi-soft cheese hailing from a small family farm in Cork, Ireland. Those of you who know my cheese sensibilities won’t be surprised that I’m featuring this particular cheese on this particular blog.
Ardrahan proved itself a complex cheese, worthy of the awards it has garnered. Splitting open the golden, saffron-hued exterior reveals an ocre-colored flesh that’s both firm and springy. Like some of my other stinky cheese favorites, Ardrahan possesses a somewhat sticky rind and a meaty interior that’s delivers a subtlety pungent barnyard aroma and an earthy, mushroomy flavor, which becomes slightly tangy as it ages. On the tongue, the mouthful is buttery, nutty, salty and slightly chalky.
Ardrahan is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and vegetarian rennet, hand-made in small batches by the Burns family on their Kanturk, County Cork farm.