A Farm Visit to Milleens Cheese: Feeding Calves & Free Range Kids
October felt like a loooooong month- busy, car problems, job stuff, little time to write. Felt a little heavy. Then, this week hit, and suddenly last month felt as light and breezy as skipping through a field of poppies alongside a liter of puppies. When browsing through photos from my summer trip to Ireland this week, a few batches made me smile. One of them was from my trip to Milleens. For a little history about the creamery's impact on on Irish cheese, read more here.
Milleen's original cheesemaker Veronica Steele is as important to Irish cheese as Laura Chenel or Alison Hooper of Vermont Creamery is to the U.S. cheese movement. It's on her kitchen stove that she and other Cork cheesemakers learned how to make the washed-rind cheese for which the region is celebrated. Milleens is on my list of top ten washed-rind cheeses world-wide.
With a soft and wonderfully stinky rind and sweet center that oozes with age, Millens is saucer size and persimmon orange. Let's keep crossing our fingers it makes it to the states.
The creamery is in Eyries- a town alongside the rocky Cork coast whose three-to-four block town center is lined with bright blue, yellow, and fuchsia houses. Here I had the chance to join the Steele family (children of current head cheesemaker and Veronica's son, Quinlan Steele) in roaming the farm and feeding the baby calf who needed a little extra love until her mother grew used to nursing. I had wandered around the creamery and tasted different ages of the cheese on a previous visit a couple years before and walking around the farm this time was a perfect finale.
Revisiting the photos of the animals on the green Irish grass and and watching Quinlan's children eat blackberries from the hedges as they climbed the stone fences reminded me of how happy and welcomed I felt when visiting. In the middle of everything, it made me feel lighter.
Light enough to remember that even in a time of uncertainty and doubt, it's good to have hope. There are wonderful people out there and free range kids who make forts out of berry bushes. And after remembering my conversation with Quinlan (a sustainability advocate who is just a touch less passionate about his local community than he his about his children), inspired to be more active and vocal about what matters to me and treasured members of my community going forward.
Here is to hope, community, welcoming strangers, and free-range kids with blackberries on their faces. And amazing funky-sweet Irish cheese.
Thank you for the visit, Milleens!