Making Old School Alpine Cheese in Dingle, Ireland – with Seaweed


Some of you probably know of my adoration for Irish cheese.

The pastured cows on small farms that supply the rich milk from which its made. Its bright herbal and floral flavors. The island’s penchant for stinky washed-rinds. The unbelievably beautiful Irish countryside that supports it. And its skilled makers, who though make wheels that rival Holland’s goudas and Swiss mountain wheels, make their cheese modestly, while smiling.

This post is a photo dairy of the time I spent with Dingle peninsula cheesemaker Maja Binder. Born in Germany and trained in the Swiss and Italian Alps, Maja makes gorgeous Alpine-style wheels with an Irish cheese accent.

Washing the cheeses with water and a brush to encourage the growth of B. Linens, which grow naturally off the Irish coast.

Think classic, aromatic, semi-firm wheels of the kind you’d find on Swiss farms- strong, sweet and herbal, but often with a little seaweed caught off the Dingle coast  (which I was around on a warm enough day that I got to swim in!) mixed in to make some wheels like Diliskus.

Visiting Maja was amazing. She’s as charismatic as they come. Energetic- she runs a cheese shop in Dingle in addition making her cheese on her own wheels, Maja is a vibrant cheesemaker who is one of the few people outside of the Alps who make their wheels with curds they gather with a cheesecloth they hold with their teeth. Really.

So she pretty much does everything.

I’m working on a writing project that will reveal more about this skilled cheesemaker later, but its a slow work in progress and I was aching to show you Maja’s work in the meantime. The photos capture the story in color.

 

Gathering the curds with a cheesecloth and wire.

Tying off the curds

Pressing the curds wrapped in cheesecloth into plastic forms.

And then reallllllly pressing the curds under fresh cheese wheels and stones.

Traditional tools used to stir the curds in the vat

The wonderful Binder pup. the liked to chase hurling-balls on the beach mid-game.

Me, stoked, on the Dingle coast.

Thank you Maja for letting me visit!