Fried Polenta with Irish Cheddar, roasted Cauliflower and fresh Plum sauce

Grilled Polenta with roated cauliflower, Irish farmhouse cheddar and plum sauce

I wanted to do a little recipe to pay tribute to our Irish Farmhouse Cheddars; especially after visiting Derg Farm in county Tipperary last month, I wanted to do something a bit new and for everybody. I knew  that I had an organic cauliflower in the fridge, but I wanted to drift away – at least this time – from the usual gratin that I have previously made. It had to include Cheddar of course and I wanted to avoid a soup and toasties, even if they are delicious together. The idea came when I parked the car in the driveway; I discovered that I had bought some polenta a few month back and when I opened the fridge, I still had a lot of local plums a friend gave me… Click… Clock… Click… Clock…  I might have watched “Ready, Steady, Cook!” a bit too much during my early years in Ireland, but it delivered a lovely dish, vegetarian too, satisfying and for everyone to enjoy! And this, my friends, is how last night went…

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Derg, a Cheddar Immersion

Derg Cheddar maturing

I do often come across a bit of ignorance from our mainland European gourmands regarding Cheddar. A cheese named after a little village in Somerset, UK; a few miles from Wales. It also refers to a very particular type of cheese making.  Unlike camembert from Normandy, the name Cheddar is not really protected so it can be found well outside its original region of production and therefore, due to obvious historical reasons, is found in all shapes and forms in Ireland. Shape wise, it is mostly square, rectangular, white or red (due to a carotene type dye); not really exciting, I’ll give you that, but then again, neither are a lot of main brands of Camembert, chalky, dry versus “boing-boing” plastic. “Tomaytoes-tomatoes”, same difference my friends! The truth is, real cheddar is a bit like some famous French cheese, from Auvergne, like Salers, Cantal or Laguiole. They are not covered with cloth, but their texture and taste can be pretty similar. I even have a theory that they might be related through old French monks’ migrations to England, the same way Wensleydale is related to Roquefort… But that is a debate for another day.

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