It’s March so the countdown to St. Patrick’s Day is almost over. A day dedicated to everything Irish. It’s one of the best culinary days of the year. Cooks and food lovers get to explore some of the great tastes of Ireland. The best of those great tastes has to be the cheese. Really is there any better food than cheese? Below I provide a guide to Irish cheese. By no means is this a complete guide, it’s just the cheeses that Irish cheese I have encountered, a lot of them under the Kerrygold brand. If you are interested in the history of Irish dairy, check out this resource.
Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese | Click here for more info
Named after the largest city in Ireland, this aged cheese has a strong flavor with a touch of sweetness. The texture of the cheese is similar to cheddar. Although it does not melt as good as cheddar, so I would say it for straight up eating, along with a nice plate of fruit.
Where to Buy: A couple local stores, Produce Station and Busch’s carry the cheese. On a nation level, I found it at Trader Joe’s selling for $6.49/lb any time of year. I had one reader report that Sam’s Club is selling it in one pound blocks for $10. Another reader said they paid $5 for a 2 lb block, which seems ridiculously cheap. If anyone can confirm these prices, leave a comment below.
Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese | Click here for more info
This one is named after one of the most well known castles in the world, Blarney Castle. The cheese is very much like a young gouda. It has a creamy, smooth texture. It’s a great choice for a fruit and cheese platter.
Where to Buy: Busch’s with several stores in Southeastern Lower Michigan has it on sale around St. Patrick’s Day each year. I don’t know of any national chain that sells it.
Kerrygold Kilaree Cheddar Cheese | Click here for more info
This cheddar has been aged for a minium of 15 months. It’s sharp with a bit of sourness to it. It is recommended to enjoy along side a corned beef sandwich. As for the name “Kilaree” that is a mystery I am still trying to figure out. I believe it’s describing a geographical location.
Where to Buy: Last year, I bought some on sale at Whole Foods Market. They are again carrying it this year.
Tipperary Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
This really, really sharp cheddar has been aged for at least 12 months. It is a rich yellow color and has a creamy texture. Great to use as a melting cheese, maybe even a fondue.
Where to Buy: I just found this cheese for the first time. I purchased it at Western Market in Ferndale, MI.
Maple Leaf Irish Harp Cheddar Cheese
This is a two-toned cheddar, wrapped in green wax. It looks like the Irish flag in cheese form! A great visual for St. Patrick’s Day cheese board. It has a smooth and firm texture.
Erin Gold Irish Style Cheese
This is a gouda style cheese made from the DCI Cheese Company (Black Diamond is one of their brands). It comes of course in a green wax. It has a melt in your mouth, buttery texture with a pretty bold flavor. I love using half gouda when I make mac & cheese. Using half this cheese and half of the Tipperary Extra Sharp Cheddar would make for an out of this world mac & cheese. This cheese really goes well with anything you want to melt it on or over (grilled cheese and steamed vegetables are good options).
Where to Buy: Meijer is the only store that I know of that carries to. I would look for it where you find Black Diamond cheeses.
Kerrygold Red Leicester
As the name suggest this cheese is as red as cheese gets. It has a flaky texture, and mild flavor at first, but with a tanginess that lingers on the tongue. Another good choice for melting.
Where to Buy: I bought mine at Hiller’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I don’t find it as much as other Kerrygold products, but if you do know a source that sells Kerrygold stuff, check their to see if they carry Red Leicester (or you could always recommend it to them if they don’t have.)
Creating an Irish Cheese Board
Whenever making a cheese board there really are no rules. But there are things that you can do to enhance your experience. I would recommend at least 3 different cheeses. You want their to be clear differences in the cheeses. Those difference can come in flavor or texture. For example, having a flaky cheese like a Red Leicester and a buttery cheese like the Erin Gold are two nice contrasts to have on the plate. Or you can try having several of the same type of cheese (like a couple different cheddars) for people to taste the different.
I like to try something a little different each year for my St. Patrick’s Day cheese board. Here are the cheese I selected last year.
1) Irish Harp – the two tone cheese is appealing on the plate
2) Tipperary – a second cheddar to taste side by side with the Irish Harp. It both differs in texture and strength of flavor than the Irish Harp
3) Erin Gold – a nice buttery cheese, provide another textural experience.
4) Dubliner – a cheddar like cheese that a bit of sweetness that makes it stand out from the two cheddars on the plate.
Whether it be March or any other month on the calendar, there is always a good reason to enjoy Irish cheeses!