Where: West Cork, Ireland
Milk: cow, pasteurized
Shape: 3lb 8″x3″ rounds
Flavor: mushroom, butter, walnuts, cut hay
Gubbeen is the Georgian farmhouse that is home to Tom and Giana Ferguson who make the cheese of the same name on their 200 acre farm. The name comes from the Gaelic “gobin” meaning “small mouthful. It’s a description of the bay below the farmstead that pours out into the sea from the tiny harbor of Schull, West Cork, Ireland.
Giana came from Spain, where her family farmed goats and made cheeses in their farm in the Alora Mountains. Together with Tom, they and other Irish cheesemakers formed the Association Irish Farmstead Cheesemakers. Coolea and Cashel Blue are also among those in the guild.
The family business has grown beyond cheese, too. Fingal, their son has runs a business at the farm making charcuterie: smoked meats, hams, sausages, Pâté and the like. Their daughter, Clovisse, supplies local restaurants and shops with her organic vegetables and herbs.
Giana and son Fingal in the family kitchen
The Ferguson’s graze their cattle, include Irelands only native breed, the “Kerry” on grasses most of the year; it yields a rich milk they say is ideal for cheese.
Gubbeen, made under the guidance of master cheesemaker Rose O’Donovan, is a washed-rind cheese in shades of pink, tan and salmon. It’s pungent, even stinky (and rather strong at that) but the flavor is much more palatable. The creamy yellow paste tastes of mushrooms, walnuts, salted butter and cut hay.
It’s soft but firm enough to cut easily with a good bite.
Beverage Pairing: Try this with a fruity pale or stronger brown ale or IPA.