Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You get what you pay for.

Less is more. After finding that the word 'mature' when applied to cheese is more often or not meaningless we went on a hunt for properly matured Cheddar cheese. Our little town has three supermarkets, one we never go into, one we use for essentials such as pet food and our milk,  one which is an Irish company we seldom use having been a supplier to this chain and frankly we don't like the way they treated their suppliers, however we thought it would be worthwhile looking to see if they had any real matured cheddar. They did , two different types, both Irish,
one is matured for 15 months,
                         the other for two years, we bought both.
They are quite different from each other, both slightly crumbly, which you expect with a real matured cheese, and both very good. The price difference was just two euros between them. Even though we don't like this store, we will be buying our cheese there in future, although it is roughly double the price that we had been paying, we concider it good value for good cheeses.  I just hope that they are treating their suppliers in a decent way.
 I have to admit, until today I didn't know what we were paying for the cheese that we had been using, a mere 7.40 per kg, had I looked at the price before I would have realised why I was so unhappy with the flavour, I'm guessing that the word 'mature' on this cheese means a good dose of chemicals to enhance the flavour.
An interesting read.
Living in the countryside it is always interesting to see how people turn to alternative enterprises to created employment for themselves.
Yesterday we saw a flock, or is herd,  of llamas, twelve in all, the guy that has them will be using them for their wool which is a high value product.
They are lovely and very interested in people. Another enterprise that we saw this weekend is being done by a friend of ours, making garden sculptures and furniture from flat steel which he welds. Some of his pieces are beautiful, unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me. Someone else that we have met keeps Jacob sheep, mainly for their wool which she spins and sells into selected markets in the US. Other friends of ours are bakers, they make fantastic bread which is sold at the farmers markets, there is always a queue for their bread. There are ways of earning a living when you live a distance from a town but it is rather a case of identifying a unique product. I'm sure that there is a living to be made from growing garlic in Ireland, most of what is sold here is imported yet it grows well here. Watercress, the 'new super food' would be another enterprise, I've yet to see watercress sold here, but the Irish love rocket, it was one of the things we were most frequently asked for when we grew herbs, yet watercress is far nicer. There are so many ways that it is possible to earn an income from, but it requires thought and market research. At least we get Irish daffodils, they arrive early in the shops, someone identified a niche market and supply Lidl, it's nice to see Irish grown anything, rather than stuff imported.
Strawberries are looking good.
Everything is now growing well, especially in the tunnel,
 the first potatoes should be ready in about six weeks,
the first peas have just started climbing,
spinach should be ready for a first pick in about three weeks as well as salad bowl lettuce.
We also grow herbs both outside and in the tunnel,
the flavour from tunnel herbs is always far more intense that the outside crop
we always have a ready supply whatever the weather.
There is a fine crop of fungi growing on the straw bale strawberry bed, Blister Cap, (Peziza Vesiculosa)
It is poisonous , but it's pretty and shows that the bales are doing what they should.


  1. Well done on finding 'proper' matured cheese. We have also been a-hunting and when Liz was in the UK recently she went into ASDA and found 2 possibles. One had the label "matured for up to 14 months" (what the Hell does that mean? She left it there!). The other, McLelland's "Seriously Strong" brand from Scotland says "matured for typically 14 months" which we took to be slightly better. Obviously these could both include the chemical-maturing effect, but I hope, maybe not. We will have to hunt down your Wexford and the 'Irish' one and compare notes. I guess we all now have to look for the quoted maturing times on packaging, not just the words "Extra mature" or "Vintage" as is on the Rathgara, LIDL one we have been (possibly) duped by.

    1. If I remember correctly Lidl used to stock Valley Spar cheese which was OK, it had taste and was slightly crumbly it also bubbled up if you did cheese on toast, the stuff they have now has a bitter after taste and just melts rather than bubbles up, I like to have a piece of cheese if I feel peckish which I stopped doing when they changed their supplier, I just don't like it. The cheeses we have now tracked down are in Super Valu in C/rea . We did buy some mature cheddar at the farmers market last week, it's 10 euros a kg dearer than the dearest one in SV and not so nice. Try the ones from Super Valu I think you will like them.

    2. Yes - we were saqd when Lidl changed from Valley Spire to Rathgaragh and had a right go at them via Twitter, especially as they started off the Rathgaragh withour including the black label 'Vintage' in the range. We've put up with the Rathgaragh since, but will be changing over to SuperValu now.

    3. If I could be bothered I would contact Lidl but as we are now very happy with what we have found I won't bother. I just asked Simon how much our cheese consumption has gone down since they changed to Rathdaragh he say's 50%, I wonder if the sales generally for their cheese have plummeted, or do people still buy rubbish.

  2. Oh Dear, yesterday i typed a comment on your post and it seems to have disappeared. Did you think no one cared? I went back 3 times to see your response and the comment was gone. Oh well, it was a bit of a rant about lack of national pride both here and seemingly everywhere else. I want to buy Australian and it seems the only way i can do that is to go to farmers markets which are weekend trips that seem to take up half the day. Oh well. Your opening photo is lovely. I love love love Cheese, in all forms. In my dreams i make my own but could never leave it alone for 14 months to mature.

    1. At last it seems normal service has been resumed. I replied to you twice earlier and the reply got swallowed.
      We try to buy Irish and local as much as possible which is one of the reasons we use the farmers market, we like to get to know people who are producing our food, especially what little meat we buy. New Zealand lamb I'm sure is good, not like when I was a child, but why buy something that the Irish excel at producing except for price, I think NZ lanb is half the price of Irish lamb. What Ireland does not have however is kangaroo which we have bought from time to time, it's very good. maybe some enterprising farmer might take a look at that! There are now wallabies in the wild in the UK, so why not kangaroo?
      Cheese, one of my mainstays if I'm feeling peckish I have a lump of cheese, we never buy biscuits but always have a homemade cake around but I prefer savoury things, hence the cheese search.
      Does Rabbidlittlehippy not make cheese?

  3. Gav from the Greening of Gavin is the cheese meister and runs workshops. Jess buys her supplies from him but her goat isnt in kid. Ive just explained to Tom about economy of scale which makes foreign meat cheaper. Kangaroos in Ireland. Now there would be a tourist attraction. Feel free, they are in plague proportions at home in the country. Weve all tried it but its a novelty still here. .

    1. I first tried it over twenty years ago in one of our favourite restaurants , they also had ostrich, Simon ordered that and I tried it, it was lost on me, but I loved the kangaroo, low in fat and cholesterol, and a menace in Australia, I knew I wasn't eating an endangered species, when I saw it in our local German chain supermarket I could not resist. I know it's come from the other side of the world, but it is about the only imported thing we do buy, more to the point Simon likes it whereas give him a beef steak and he turns his nose up, he doesn't 'do' red meats normally.

  4. Hey! Glad you found some decent cheese, as you know, it is one of my favourite things. We haven't had real cheese for months as they favour the 'day old' cheese here. it's white, rubbery and salty. We did try alpaca the other week and it was delicious. Guinea Pig is popular here too but we haven't tried it...yet!

    Good to see everything is making good progress including the strawbales! Lauren xxx

  5. Yes, things are so far progressing well but we aren't too happy with the straw bale project, they take far too much water which is fine if you have mains water and not rain water collection. The strawberries in the raised bed are now doing far better than the ones in the straw bales, I glad I decided to keep one raised bed for strawberries.