Handcrafted Artisan Irish Farmhouse Cheeses
Milleens is a timeless gem
Veronica Steele's Milleens Cheese was the first artisan farmhouse cheese in Ireland. Created in 1976, from milk produced on the small farm in Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, where she lived with husband Norman. One day, the couple gave some to a friend, who gave it to a chef, who fed it to Declan Ryan of Arbutus Bread, who introduced it to Myrtle Allen. The rest is history.
This washed rind, semi soft cheese is created in exactly the same way today, by Veronica and Norman's son Quinlan. A dynamic second generation cheesemaker, Quinlan lives on the family farm he grew up on, now with his own wife Deirdre and two young children. He makes cheese in the same small dairy his mother used, from milk of neighbouring Beara dairy farms, of which there are only two remaining in this still quite remote and beautiful area.
Nothing much has changed here in over 30 years. All to the good. Milleens is a timeless gem. Iconic among Ireland's top chefs, cheesemongers and discerning cheese lovers. Quinlan has respected distributors to the restaurant trade, but is very happy to deal direct with chefs and cheesemongers for supplies. Milleens comes in 1kg rounds, 1.5kg rounds and the little 200g Milleens ‘Dote’ – a term of fondness in Irish for someone cute and sweet – often used for children!
The newest in the cheese range, the Milleens ‘O’ – also has a name with Gaelic connections. The ‘O’ is a 1.5kg round cheese with a hole in the middle. In Irish, the name O’Sullivan means ‘one eye’ – the Milleens ‘O’ carries on family traditions, since Quinlan’s wife’s maiden name was O’Sullivan. All Milleens cheeses have a characteristic rich creamy taste and fragrant mushroomy earthiness and herbaceous notes, when served at ultimate ripeness and condition. Best left at room temperature for a while so the full tastes can develop before eating. Cheeses are generally ready from around three weeks of age and can mature on a little longer for those who like aromatic punchiness on the cheeseboard.
Quinlan has recently also created Cead, specially for the supermarket retail sector. Cead is a mild semi soft washed rind cheese whose name means ‘hundred’ in Irish. Fitting, since it comes in 100g rounds. It has a more subtle taste than Milleens but with characterful regional personality. Both are made from pasteurised milk and have brine washed rinds created with Milleens spring water. A pair of real handcrafted artisan Irish farmhouse cheeses – they are even wrapped and packaged by hand.