Ardrahan: A Rich Savory Cheese
September 3, 2010
Ardrahan is a big cheese with a rich texture and pronounced flavors. We tasted Ardrahan on the heels of a similar cheese, Oma, and our issues with Oma were echoed in Ardrahan. Perhaps our Ardrahan tasting was too soon after Oma and we were unable to give Ardrahan a fair shake. Needless to say, Ardrahan did not win any fans at our house.
Ardrahan is a semi-soft cheese produced in Ireland. It is a washed rind cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
Ardrahan’s interior paste is pale gold and darkens towards the rind. The paste has irregular spaced dimples. The interior feels rubbbery and moist. The grooved rind is pinkish-orange; it is firm and gummy to the touch.
Ardrahan’s aroma is inviting. The cheese smells of earth: musty, damp and a bit like soil. It has light sour milk and smoky flavors, with just a slight saltiness.
This is a savory cheese that feels big and heavy. Ardrahan’s texture is rich. It has a very thick, creamy texture that is pasty in the mouth.
Compared to Oma, Ardrahan has a more subtle profile: its smoky flavors are more subdued, it does not last long on the tongue, and it is not as fatty in the mouth. Ardrahan has more tanginess than Oma, which may help balance its richness. Both cheeses have a pasty thick texture in the mouth.
When we tried Oma, we had difficulty eating it in large amounts. We had a similar issue with Ardrahan: a little of this cheese feels like a meal. Jacob and I had trouble finishing our small servings of Ardrahan and as with Oma, we needed a non-alcoholic beverage to balance out the smoky flavors and rich texture of the cheese. We hadn’t resolved this issue post-Oma, so our tasting of Adrahan suffered.
Notes on purchasing: Our purchase source was Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). Since Cowgirl Creamery carries both the seasonal Oma (raw milk, made in Vermont) and Ardrahan (pasteurized milk, imported from Ireland), a comparative test of the two cheeses could be conducted in the shop or at home.