St Tola log is a fresh, mild cheese made with raw organic goat’s-milk from the St Tola herd of Saanen and Toggenburg goats. Young St Tola is fairly loose textured with a mild and creamy flavour. Since the cheese loses moisture as it matures, older St Tola is firmer textured with a more pronounced flavour, developing a pale yellowish (geotrichum) rind as it matures. When properly matured the cheese has a lightly mould speckled natural rind and a wonderful citrus flavour which mingles with lots of other subtle herbal and even nutty tones. Owing largely to its low salt content at just 1%, St Tola rarely develops real sharpness, and is a fantastic introduction to the world of quality goat’s cheese.
Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith runs St Tola at Inagh Goat Farm, just south of the beautiful Burren area in County Clare.
Meg and Derrick Gordon began making St Tola in the Burren in 1978, primarily as a means of making a living out of their 25 acre holding. All the milk used came from their own herd. Meg had picked up cheese making skills during her time in Normandy, whilst Derrick, as former tea-plantation manager, was no stranger to hard agricultural work. This formidable combination allowed the couple to make a success of their business. Some twenty years later their neighbour, Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith, interested in learning the cheesemaker’s art, began to take lessons from Meg. A year later Meg handed over the running of the business to Siobhan, who took charge of the herd and relocated production to a purpose built cheesemaking facility on the her parents’ family farm, a short distance away.
These days the St Tola range includes crottins, logs, hard cheeses, Greek style cheese and a soft cream cheese. It also includes an ash coated version of St Tola which is lightly matured and stronger in flavour.
St Tola is also wonderful to cook with and is often used in the nascent modern Irish style, where the emphasis is firmly on the use of quality, local ingredients. Try it on toast with honey, or with filo pastry and tomatoes.