Northern Ireland is one of the food world’s best kept secrets, with artisan cheese makers and passionate producers providing an array of different types of cheese and an abundance of gastronomic delights. Through a combination of age-old traditions, local connections and diverse natural landscapes, this little corner of the world hosts a whole legion of diverse, award-winning producers.
From velvety triple-cream bries and complex ale-washed cheddars to smoky whiskeys and rich, aged balsamics. This interconnectedness is not only a regional characteristic; the symbiotic nature of these lovingly crafted products is such that when paired together on a plate, an explosion of taste is enjoyed.
Cheese pairings have come a long way from the retro marriages of cheddar and pineapple. They are now more sophisticated, more inventive, and certainly more flavoursome. Why not take some tips from Academy of Cheese and pair them with some of the region’s best spirits?
Kearney blue with a tot of Mourne Dew Distillery Pooka Hazelnut Poitin – this delectable spirit is infused and distilled with roast hazelnuts to give a strong, rich nutty flavour which complements the flavour of the poitín. The rich notes of fruit and nut chocolate cream fit seamlessly with the subtle spiciness and salty blue cheese.
Mike’s Fancy Cheese Young Buck with Dunville’s Three Crown Peated Irish Whiskey – The Three Crowns, winner of many awards, is a peated vintage blend of selected aged malt and grain whiskeys with a subtle wisp of smoke. Incredibly accessible, it has a creamy bite finished with a kiss of heat that perfectly complements the savoury notes of the Young Buck.
These unusual marriages certainly break with the traditional cheese and wine pairings. That said, they do satisfy the common rule of matching ingredients from the same geographical region, and when that region has the mighty smallness of Northern Ireland, they are certain to delight you and your guests.