It’s been exactly a month since my last post and once again I get to tie it into a holiday! I am admittedly a bit of a theme queen so this is right up my alley. Even more because, in spite of having a last (cheese)name that hints at my Italian roots, I recently found out I’m 28% Irish, so celebrating St. Patrick’s suddenly seems all the more important.
New York City honors the holiday with a day long parade that finishes close to my workplace and then the night is consumed with a lot of excessive drinking at any and every watering hole. But I recently heard that the more authentic Irish way of celebrating is to spend the day with your family, in a style similar to the North American holiday of Thanksgiving. Thus it was, that in an effort to share my cheese consumption with others, this time round I enjoyed an afternoon cheese fest with my good friend Jindi Brie as well as the Sirene girls.
Because it’s an easy pitstop on my way home, I had returned to the Murray’s counter in Grand Central Market to pick up a sampling of Irish cheeses. I selected their Irish Cheddar from Dublin, appropriately wrapped in a green wax; Coolea (Koo/lay), a Gouda-like cheese made by some Dutch immigrants now resident in Co. Cork; and Ardrahan (Ard/RAH/han), a washed rind creation, also from the Cork region. On the side, there were two kinds of crackers from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, the brown-bread and rye & linseed varieties.
The cheddar was an easy favorite amongst all of us. Jindi Brie & I also both enjoyed the Coolea with its sharper, nuttier overtones. And then there was Ardrahan… it had been seriously stinking up my fridge since I’d brought it home Friday evening. While the Murray’s counter gal hadn’t urged me to eat it straightaway, I sensed she may have been new, since she miscorrected my reasonably close pronunciations of Coolea and Ardrahan as “Koo/leah” and “Are/dra/HAN”.
In consulting its label, I saw that Ardrahan may have developed its pungent aroma from having been washed in briny saltwater. But while there are definitely some stinky cheeses out there that when placed into one’s mouth transform and bloom, this one did not. Murray’s claimed it was one of “the most approachable washed rinds” available but considering we elected to place this cheese outside until I left Jindi Brie’s house, I’d say it was far from “approachable”!
I feel a little sorry for giving up on this stinky beast after only one wincing bite. So, if any of my fellow turophiles feel up to the challenge, please check if your local cheesemonger carries it and report back if you decide to bravely try it. Maybe I just had an initial bad experience like The Comte did with Swag and should have consumed it post-haste on the train ride home from the city?
I carried my cheese fest over into the following day, when I took the leftover cheddar, Coolea, and crackers along with some special St. Paddy’s treats from my favorite bakery, over to share with my friends, the Sternschnuppe family. We shared an afternoon tea together happily munching upon cheese, crackers, cupcakes, and soda bread. These friends are not afraid of stinky cheeses, so I was slightly regretful that I had not saved the rejected Ardrahan for a second sampling. However, it’s probably best that I prevented the possibility of causing anyone else to turn “green” from merely being in the same room as this cheese!