Over the past few decades, the Irish renaissance has transformed the Emerald Isle from a backwater to an economic dynamo. The best part: the Irish are interested in food these days.
The Grubb family is at the forefront of the artisanal cheesemaking movement there. Their dairy in Tiperrary began turning out the country's first farmstead blue cheese in the 1980s, Cashel Blue. More recently, they've launched a sheep's milk version, called Crozier. Both are made from the milks of animals raised on or near the family farm.
Cashel is a semisoft cheese, made from pasteurized cow's milk. The cheese is often sold young, when it is fairly firm and crumbly. As it ages, it grows more complex, as well as softer and creamier, even runny. Think of it as Gorgonzola with a brogue.
Crozier ripens slowly, and it is a bit milder than its sibling. When young, Crozier is gentle, with a pleasing bit of classic blue tanginess. It is best eaten after four months or so of ripening.
On St. Patrick's Day, Erin go bragh. Now go eat some cheese.
PAIRINGS: A mesclun salad made with either Crozier or Cashel is great with pears, walnuts, and sliced raw onion. Dress it simply, with olive oil and a drop or two of Balsamic vinegar. Either one of these blue cheeses holds up well with spicy red wines.