Cheddar, Onion and Potato Pie

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I first thought of making this dish a couple of weeks ago when some Irish Cheddar arrived as part of the Pong Irish Selection Box. There’s nothing fancy about it and – so I thought at the time – nothing controversial. But that was before the latest Mary Berry furore, otherwise known as ‘Pie-Gate.’ So, it turns out that a pie is not a pie unless there’s a great deal of pastry involved. Mary tried to get away with just a pastry top but was soundly castigated by the chairman of the British Pie Awards. Mine is entirely free of pastry. I’m still calling it a pie. I could call it a bake but I’m not going to. So there.

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Humming Bark

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to anyone who celebrates it. Over the last couple of weeks, courtesy of the Pong Cheese Irish Selection Box, I’ve learned a great deal about the history and diversity of Irish cheese. Today’s cheese sums up the island’s cheese renaissance, blending fresh milk from green pastures with inspiration from further afield – in this case, France. As you can see, though, Humming Bark is not a cheese for amateurs. It’s not just flexing its muscles; it’s actually burst through its shirt, Hulk-style.

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Cashel Blue and Mushroom Arancini

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Those of you with a critical eye may be thinking that I’m frying up way too much cheese lately, as this recipe follows hot on the heels of last week’s St Tola Ash Log and Wild Leek Fritters. I would counter that there is no limit on how much cheese you can fry.

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Cashel Blue

If there’s one Irish cheese that seems to deserve an automatic place on any St Patrick’s Day platter, it may well be this one. Second out of the Pong Cheese Irish Selection Box I was sent to review is Cashel Blue, which is named after the ‘Rock of Cashel’, the medieval castle where St Patrick is said to have started converting the pagan Irish to Christianity, using the three-leafed shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity.

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St Tola and Wild Leek Fritters

DSCF0994To continue this week’s exploration of all cheeses Irish thanks to Pong Cheese, this recipe pairs St Tola Ash Log with wild tri-cornered leeks. It’s once again the season for wild garlic but, living in London, tracking it down is a lifetime’s work. Tri-cornered leeks, on the other hand, pop up frequently in patches of woodland or people’s gardens. If you are lucky enough to find it, wild garlic would work equally well in this recipe.

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St Tola Ash Log

With the faint promise of spring hanging in the air, it seemed only right that the first cheese out of the Pong Cheese Irish Selection Box should be the goat’s cheese. It’s at this time of year that fresh goat and ewe’s milk cheeses start to proliferate after a winter break when the animals tend not to give milk. As with the other cheeses in the box, St Tola is not shy and retiring, in appearance or taste:

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Pong Cheese: The Irish Selection Box

Writer G. K. Chesterton once wrote that ‘poets have been mysteriously quiet on the subject of cheese.’ It could also be said that, in comparison to Welsh, Scottish and English, this blog has also been somewhat tight-lipped on the particular subject of Irish cheese. Not entirely – Brewer’s Gold and Coolea have both featured – but still, some work to be done to redress the balance. So, with St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, when online cheese specialists Pong Cheese asked me if I’d like to review their Irish Selection Box, it seemed positively serendipitous.

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