bonnie_webBonnie: Each year the folks from Kerrygold invite food editors to an event to sample its Irish dairy products such as butter, cheese and cream. At this year’s event I sampled the new Cashel Blue, an authentic artisanal farmhouse cheese.

I asked for samples for our BOTB team, but the cheese was so new it wasn’t yet in the country. I’m glad to share with you that it’s here now, in time for your holiday entertaining. (And you can win some this week: Check out the Cashel Blue FREEBIE.)

The milk for Cashel Blue cheese – just like all Kerrygold dairy products – comes only from Irish cows raised without growth hormones. This semisoft creamy cheese is the creation of Jane and Louis Grubb, and is hand made on the Grubb family farm near Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland.

The cheese has a rich, full flavor and slight tang due to the characteristic blue veining from Penicillium roqueforti, the fungus that’s widespread in nature and used in Roquefort, Stilton and other blue cheeses. This blue is so good that it won gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2009 and 2010.

For your holiday entertaining, add it to a cheese board along with some fruit, such as ripe pears or figs. It’s also delicious (like all blue cheeses) atop a salad or even grilled steak. As Cashel Blue ages, the flavors become more pronounced.

BOTB BloggerBryan: Kerrygold’s Cashel Blue cheese (actually produced by J&L Grubb Ltd.) is made by Jane and Louis Grubb on their farm in County Tipperary, Ireland. And, like any good cheese maker, they’ve been making it the exact same way, in this case, since 1984.

Cashel Blue is actually the first farmhouse blue cheese to be produced in Ireland. Though hard to believe, up until the 1980’s there was no blue cheese at all made on any farm throughout the massive dairy-producing country of Ireland. Similar to other Irish cheese producers, the Grubbs began producing cheese to add profit to their farm’s dairy production. You might think that the scenario would render them amateurs, but in fact, the Grubb family has had a hand in food production in Tipperary dating back more than 150 years! Additionally, Jane is a trained chef who has spent years tinkering with their unique blue cheese recipe until it was something truly special.

So, what is Cashel Blue? It is a blue cheese, but don’t fret, blue cheese scoffer; this cheese is MUCH more mild than your average blue offering. Though still a bit strong for me to eat too much of, Cashel Blue is on the milder end of the blue spectrum. It’s a hand-made, semisoft, mild blue cheese with an incredibly creamy texture. Cashel Blue is made from cows’ milk, with more than half the milk used in production coming from their very own farm.

The cheese takes its name from a rock (the Rock of Cashel) that overlooks the pastures near the Grubb’s family farm. Because of the quality of dairy and of the recipe and production methods, Cashel Blue has become the best known of all the Irish farmhouse cheeses.

As I mentioned, blue cheese is not usually for me, but Cashel Blue is a blue cheese that relies more on balance and elegance than sheer mold power. This means you’re not going to squint your eyes at the “pungentness,” though you may still purse your lips at the “blueness.”

So, why the confusion over names: Kerrygold vs. J&L Grubb? Well, this past summer, Cashel Blue was re-launched in the United States under the co-brand of Kerrygold. Though the cheese remains a 100 percent family owned and managed company, they decided that they would have greater success marketing with such a wonderfully established brand like Kerrygold. I agree. Enjoy!

eric5Eric: Kerrygold’s Cashel Blue is one-of-a-kind (although mass produced) and would be one of my choices as an accompaniment to my “last meal”. By no means am I a blue cheese advocate — most of the time, blue cheese taste just like it smells, pungent with an almost mildewy aroma. At first glance, most blue cheese looks like it came to earth as part of a meteorite — it stares at you with it’s blue veins. However, Kerrygold’s Cashel Blue seems to be one of the few exceptions to the rule. Produced as one of the first farmhouse blue cheeses in Ireland, Cashel Blue (winner of the world cheese awards in 2009/2010) redefines what blue cheese means to most people. Cashel Blue is a softer, milder blue cheese — almost like a baby blue, a cheese that hasn’t reached the “mature” stage of it’s life. Like most food, the flavor and taste of Cashel Blue is hard to put into words; it’s one of those products you just have to try. Cashel Blue will have the blue cheese naysayer in you questioning it’s stance — it’s that good.