It would be fanciful to suggest that I can remember the first time I tasted a piece of Gubbeen cheese. It would have been one of the first times we went to Ahakista and no doubt we would have either been sat around the old dark oak dining table inside or we were outside eating around the green plastic table which would have been set up just beyond the yellow door.
I was still unsure of the place but starting to realise that the way into it would be through the food and more particularly the cheeses made from the milk that came from the cows that ate in the green grass in fields all within thirty miles or so of the Cottage.
I may not be able to remember that first time but there is no forgetting the smell. It was a pungent swipe at the nose that hit you as soon as you pulled away the greaseproof wrap of paper from around the small wheel of cheese. The smell stuck to your fingers. A ripe rich whiff of the farmyard and wet damp fields.
We have eaten a lot of Gubbeen cheese since that first time. One of my favourite ways of eating it is after a meal. The cheese is set up on a wooden plate with a sharp knife and the people around the table take their turn cutting away a slice and paring the rind and then eating it perhaps with some pickle or maybe with some coked down quince. With some good wine and friends it is easy to eat up.
We normally bring a bag of cheese back with us after the summer but this year we brought less than usual. There is just the one small round left in the fridge downstairs. Once that is gone we will have to wait until next year before we can have some more.
I am writing this by way of a note to say that Giana Ferguson has now written a book setting out some of the history as to how she came to make the cheese. You can buy it on Amazon. I have resisted the temptation for one evening but I suspect for not much longer.