Dingle Goat’s Cheese – made with love on the Dingle Peninsula
Some people say you either love it or hate it. Some goat cheeses may be strong and ‘’goaty’’ and of course it all depends on your taste buds…but have you ever tried Angela’s Dingle Goats Cheese? I personally think it is so delicious – creamy, fresh, genuine and a very delicate flavour. It can be enjoyed in so many ways. The flavours of the land – the terroir of the Dingle Peninsula – combined and transformed into a delicious cheese made with passion and love. Let me tell you more about it…
I first met Angela and her husband Shane at a pop up dinner in Foleys Bar Inch organized by Basque Chef Gorka and his team at SUA. Besides having a brilliant dinner with a stunning local menu, I got to eat Angela’s Goats Cheese beautifully presented by Gorka while chatting to her at the same table.
Angela tells me she started making cheese almost by accident – many times this is when the best things happen.. Both her children, Maryanne and Joseph, now 9 and 7 years old, have suffered from asthma and bad chest infections since they were toddlers. After some research into the benefits of goat’s milk, they welcomed Molly and Summer to the family – two goats coming from a lady in Killarney who couldn’t look after them anymore. Well, Angela and her family really took care of them and the kids loved them from the start.
An allergy to cow’s milk can occur in many infants, children and also adults and show its symptoms in forms of asthma, eczemas, migraines and the list goes on. In fact, goat’s milk has a higher digestibility and starting a goat’s milk ‘’therapy’’ has proven to help reduce the symptoms and sometimes also make them fully disappear.
The children grew up with the goats, and as the years passed Angela’s herd increased in size and she has now 70 goats.. It’s a family business – and the goats are so much part of the family. Happy goats make delicious milk. If you were ever close to a goat, you’d know how interesting they are. Unlike sheep, goats don’t seem to be shy or fearful, instead they are more exploratory. Every goat has its own personality and Angela loves being surrounded by them and takes care of them with top quality organic feed and lots of love. They are free to roam and forage on the hills of the Sliabh Mish mountains on the Dingle Peninsula, the kids love to name them and they provide Angela with high quality milk.
After talking to other farmers and learning the chemistry behind cheese making and experimenting with different techniques, Angela decided to bring down some of her cheese to Fidelus, pub owner at Foleys Bar in Inch, a neighbour and good friend of hers. Fidelus just loved the cheese and gave Angela the confidence to start producing more. The quality of her goat’s cheese is now recognized by many chefs in the county. When she got the email from Chef Alex from the Europe Hotel in Killarney, she couldn’t keep her joy in. He had spotted her cheese in Milltown Organic Store and couldn’t wait to find out more – he talked to Angela and finally added it to the menu. The Dingle Goat’s Cheese is now proudly showcased in many restaurants all over Kerry, from Dingle in well renowned restaurants like Solas Tapas & Wine, the Boatyard Restaurant, Land to Sea, Global Village, Skellig Hotel, to Killarney in the Ross Hotel, the Europe Hotel, the Lake Hotel… and then in Tralee in the Meadowlands Hotel and Croi but the list goes on…
Dingle Goat’s Cheese is made with the milk of happy goats. Saanen, British Alpine, Boer mix, Nubian and Toggenburg are some of the breeds that are part of Angela’s herd. Saanen goats produce a high volume of milk while Toggenburg’s milk is very creamy. The goats are usually milked twice a day, the fresh milk is brought in for pasteurization in a very slow and gentle process. A vegetarian rennet is used to separate whey and curds and curds are then hung in muslin clothes. This is a very traditional way of making cheese and Angela tells me that the whole process – from milking to packaging – usually takes 4 days. Dingle’s Goats Cheese is a rich creamy soft cheese and doesn’t need to mature. What you taste is coming from the Irish land, the grass of the Dingle Peninsula, the love and hard work of a small artisan producer and the milk of happy goats.
Goat’s cheese is considered to be easier to digest, a good source of calcium and protein and provides healthy fats… but hey, it is simply delicious! Here’s a way I like to use it, and you might get inspired to try this out.
I still have some chard growing in my polytunnel – rainbow chard is just so pretty and tastes delicious. It is usually in season in late summer into winter and it is so versatile. I used it here for a very easy, simple mid week pasta recipe – all you need is:
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Dingle Goats Cheese
- Some parmesan cheese
- Your favourite pasta
I am of the opinion that once you have a few good quality, simple and fresh products you don’t really need much more. The simpler, the better.
Chop your chard and fry it in a good amount of olive oil with shallot and garlic (simply crush the garlic – without chopping it too finely – this will only add a delicate flavour). Add in some dried chilly if you like a bit of spice. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water (it is very important to cook your pasta in a large pot with lots of water – also don’t be afraid to add a good amount of salt – you need the water to taste salty, keep stirring, don’t forget about it and make sure it isn’t overcooked).
Once the pasta is cooked and ”al dente” and the chard has wilted down, mix in the two, add some of the cooking water from the pasta and mix in a good amount of Dingle Goat’s cheese. Grate some parmesan and mix in everything really well until a creamy sauce is formed (adding a bit of the cooking water from the pasta is very important to create a nice creamy texture).
That is it – a few simple ingredients for a healthy, local, seasonal meal! If you don’t have chard, try it with spinach – it is also very delicious.
Another way to use this lovely goat’s cheese is in a warm winter salad like this one I just made – all you need is some roasted root vegetables like carrots and beetroots (they could be the leftovers of a Sunday roast), some leafy greens, fresh or pickled onion… you can also get creative and use what you have in the fridge. Dress your salad with freshly made kale pesto, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Having a bit of bread on the side is always a great idea!
Angela’s Dingle Goat’s cheese won Gold for two consecutive years at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards and is looking to upgrade her facility to come up with different products… She is also looking forward to 2021 when she will get her full organic certification for her farm and her goats.
Check out her new website which is still a work in progress and social media channels, and find her delicious cheese in so many places around the Kingdom – from Garvey’s Supervalu in Tralee, Supervalu in Killorglin, Bensons Quickpick in Keel, Ventry Post Office, O’Donnells Annascaul, to the Little Cheese Shop in Dingle and the Cheese Shop in Tralee, to many renowned restaurants here in the Kingdom.