Tucked away in rural County Clare is St. Tola, an unassuming organic goat farm that produces some of the most delicious and sought-after artisanal cheese in Ireland. Long stereotyped as the land of meat, potatoes and Guinness, Ireland is undergoing a food renaissance, with an increased focus on innovative, gourmet use of fresh, local products. St. Tola award-winning goat cheese is at the forefront for Irish cheeses.
Certified organic and made from 100 percent organic goat milk, St. Tola cheeses are handmade on the farm, with no preservatives, artificial colors or GMO ingredients. The farm uses no artificial fertilizers, forage is taken from its own land and extra hay for the 300 goats must come from a certified organic farmer.
St. Tola offers a range of varieties, matured for different lengths of time to produce different strengths and flavor. The youngest is a light fluffy, mild, snow-white cheese; as it matures, it becomes smaller and stronger, developing a wrinkled golden rind. The St. Tola ash log—winner of Gold in the 2013 Irish Cheese Awards and Best Irish Cheese in the World Cheese Awards in 2012, among other accolades—is rolled in a traditional ash when fresh, which slows down the maturation and results in a creamier, fuller cheese. The new ash log won gold in the New Cheese category of the Irish Cheese Awards this June.
St. Tola cheese is available throughout Ireland, as well as in Britain, Germany, Italy, and a bit in the U.S. But for the full St. Tola experience, complete with a range of cheeses, beautiful farmland, and a visit with the goats, a trip to County Clare is in order. st-tola.ie