Kevin Sheridan of Sheridans Cheesemongers, one of my favourite shops in Ireland, is the next star speaker of LitFest 2016 to contributeto the blog. In his blog entry Kevin shares with us how he and his brother Seamus set up their brilliant business:It is twenty one years since myself and Seamus set up a stall on the St Nicholas Saturday market in Galway city. We had built a rudimentary table and covering, we had a small kitchen scales and a few chefs knives. Most importantly we had various cheese posted up to us from farmhouse producers from around Ireland. The first insight into the diverse characters and great enthusiasm of the irish cheesemakers came across the phone when i rang a list of producers to see if they would be willing to send us some cheese. The boxes, the labels, the hand-written notes and the smells of clean dairies that spilled out when I opened the packages were my first physical contact with the people behind the cheeses. People who I have got to know over the past couple of decades. Some are gone or have moved on, some have become dear friends and we now work with the children of many. In parallel I have built similar relationships with those cheeses that we pulled from the boxes and placed on our stall with care and awe. I can clearly recall the feel of their diverse and various rinds, the different mass and weight from the most delicate jewels to robust rounds and wheels. Most embedded in my memory are the complex taleful aromas that came at me in stages from the rinds, then revealed when amateurly prised open and finally as I tasted the first pieces.
A lot has happened in twenty one years, we have shared many ups and downs with those first cheesemakers and the cheeses. These relationships with cheeses and cheesemakers are what we hoped to convey in our book which we published last year.
Being enveloped in a dynamic food renaissance in Ireland the relationships have not been limited to the world of cheese but have also encompassed producers of all kinds of food along with many great chefs and food professionals. When you work in a world so linked to livelihoods and culture it is impossible to develop without the need to work together as groups and individuals to challenge establishment policies and campaign for state bodies to keep a pace with the developing culture. In telling the story of cheese from our perspective these challenges could not be separated out. Ballymaloe and in particular Myrtle and Darina have been the focal point of so much of this cultural development and food activism for the past fifty years. As a young fella in my early twenties when I accidently set on this path I could never have imagined being invited as an author to such a prestigious event hosted by such heroes. I am so looking forward to sharing in this immense event where the eternally recognised talent of Irish story telling has been fused with our new found confidence in the food that we produce.
Looking forward to chatting, eating and listening at the Ballymaloe Litfest 2016.