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- Read on for a few relevant tips and step-by-step pictures (1 min)
Few appetizers share the convenience and universal appeal of the cheese board and when it comes to assembling an Irish themed one we have a few tips to share. Be sure to have both Irish beer and whiskey to offer your guests – both make excellent partners to the cheese and its accompaniments.
Any Saint Patrick’s Day party can be made better with an Irish cheese tray!
Irish Cheese Types for Cheese Platters
When it comes to composing cheese boards, a good rule of thumb is to include:
- one hard cheese
- one semi-soft or soft cheese
- a blue cheese and
- a specialty cheese
We do our best to carry this over to most of the cheese platters we prepare for guests and below is a list of Emerald Isle cheeses that can accomplish the goal.
A type of cow’s milk hard cheese, with a firm and smooth texture and crystalline formations in result of the twelve month ageing. Its color is mild yellow, its texture similar to a mature cheddar, the flavor both sweet and nutty with the sharpness of Parmesan. Produced in County Cork, but named after the city of Dublin.
2. Irish Cheddar
Perhaps the easiest to find Irish cheese within the US, this is no ordinary cheddar. Semi-soft, made with cow’s milk. Creamy, with grassy notes and fruity overtones. We like the one from Murray’s (affiliate link), it comes wrapped in green wax and is typically available at our local stores as well.
3. Cashel Blue
Made by the Grubbs family in county Tipperary, Ireland’s famous blue cheese is full-bodied and rich, with mineral undertones and a mild blue flavor. At its core a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese allowed to ripen for six months.
4. Cahill’s Farm Porter (Cheddar)
This specialty cheese has a unique method of preparation which consists of chopping young Irish cheddar into bits, then blending it with porter ale (rumor has it that the porter is often actually Guinness stout), pressing it and letting it age. The flavors that develop are rich, tangy and slightly chocolatey. It’s striking mosaic appearance makes it a must for any Irish cheese board.
How Much Cheese to Serve?
(Chef recommended – in his many years of putting together cheese boards for banquets and large groups Chris has developed a good sense of how much cheese people actually consume).
What Accompaniments to Select for an Irish Cheese Board?
Typical garnishes include:
- dried fruit, in particular apricots, but also apples or pears,
- Irish crackers, known as oatcakes (and incredibly easy to make.
- A bit of freshly baked Irish brown bread with oats and Guinness is always welcome
- fig jam or fig chutney to provide a sweet liaison between the cheeses and bread/crackers
- if you’d like to include nuts consider hazelnuts or walnuts, both native to Ireland.
How to Assemble a Cheese Board Irish Style
Once you have secured three or four types of Irish chees consider the following few tips on how to make the perfect cheese board.
- select a large enough wooden board or platter to accommodate all the cheeses you want to present as well as a little bit of the accompaniments; extra crackers and brown bread can be served nearby in a bread basket
- leave half of the cheese in its original form and cut the rest
- cut the cheese in different shapes – both for aesthetics and to help tell apart any cheese’s of similar appearance that you have not labeled
- you could make little tags with the name and details of each cheese
- place cheese knives near each type of cheese
- leave a little breathing room in between ingredients – do not pile up the ingredients too close to each other so as to make it difficult for your guests to help themselves
- be sure to provide cocktail forks/picks for guests to grab the cheese from the board; alternatively add a few small sized serving tongs for transferring cheese onto cocktail plates
Drinks to Pair with an Irish Cheese Board
- Guinness stout or another Irish style stout or a porter are pretty much a must. The roasted barley and roasted malt notes, the carbonation and luxurious mouthfeel make these styles perfect for the richness of the cheeses; Irish red ales or Harp lager are other great alternatives
- If you are up for mixing Half and Half beers (the Irish way of referring to Black & Tan) stock up on both Guinness and Harp lager
- Bulmers/Magners cider (try it mixed with Guinness aka Snakebite), perfect with Cashel Blue
- Irish whiskey (we have a weakness for Bushmills)
- Irish Slammer cocktail shot, which pairs great with the Cahill’s Porter cheese
- Black Velvet cocktail
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Irish Cheese Types
- 4 oz Dubliner (or other hard Irish cheese)
- 4 oz Irish Cheddar (or other semi-soft Irish cheese)
- 4 oz Cashel Blue (Ireland's world famous blue)
- 4 oz Carhill's Farm Porter (or other Irish specialty cheese)
Cheese Platter Accompaniments*
- 4 oz dried apricots (or dried pear or apple)
- 10 Irish oat crackers (aka oatcakes)
- 10 slices Guinness brown bread
- 4 oz fig chutney or jam
- Select a cutting board or platter large enough to accommodate your cheeses and small amounts of the other ingredients. (Serve the rest of the ingredients nearby in appropriate ramekins (chutney, jam) or bread basket (Guinness brown bread and Irish oat crackers).
- Cut about half of each cheese into varying shapes (sticks, cubes, triangles, thin slices etc). Arrange on board by placing the cheese block with its respective cut pieces next to it. Scatter dried apricots around cheeses, place a couple of crackers and some Guinness bread.
*Just suggestions, both items and their quantities. Be sure to read the post for more details and ideas.
You can buy all the wonderful cheeses mentioned above from Murray's Cheese (affiliate link) or find them at specialty food stores.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 121mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 6gSugar: 16gProtein: 11g