Durrus Farmhouse Cheese
Jeffa Gill’s Durrus cheese is one of those cultural totems that created the idea – and the culinary reality and reputation – of West Cork.
Making a raw milk, washed-rind farmhouse cheese, way up the hill of Coomkeen, close to the village of Durrus, starting almost 40 years ago, was an act of such cultural impudence – and inspiration – that we can scarcely imagine anyone having the sheer nerve to do such a thing today.
In a world of shrunken conformity, Ms Gill came along and – like Louis Armstrong in New Orleans, or Freda Kahlo in Mexico – was one of the small group of people who arrived from out of town, and quickly blew up the parish. When the rubble had settled, West Cork had been created.
Today, almost forty years on, Durrus cheese is still made in the same farm, way up the hill of Coomkeen, close to the village of Durrus. Jeffa Gill works now with her daughter, Sarah, and the pair have fashioned a quartet of superb cheeses: Durrus and its little brother, Durrus Og; the seasonal hard cheese, Dunmanus; and a smoked Durrus.
The cheeses are totemic because they express both the nature of West Cork, and the idea of West Cork, the idea that one can work creatively, productively and modestly through a life, and that one’s work makes a difference to the world, and to the place where you choose to live. In achieving this, Durrus cheese tells a fundamental truth: milk is a magic liquid. All it requires is magicians.
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