Belfast Telegraph

Co Down Artisan cheese maker offers up dairy delights at tasting events

By John Mulgrew

A Co Down award-winning cheesemaker is set to show off Ireland's top dairy delights as part of a series of unique tastings in Belfast.

Mike Thomson only began selling his blue cheese 'Young Buck' late last year under the banner of Mike's Fancy Cheese.

Now, he's trying to educate the public about Ireland's rich cheese heritage - hosting a series of tasting events at James Street South's Cookery School in Belfast.

It comes after the 28-year-old spent two days touring Ireland along with his photographer friend Joe Magowan, in order to source some of the island's top cheeses. "The cheese scene really grew in the Republic in the 1970s - with a host of great producers emerging," he said.

"We went around Ireland and visited a host of top cheesemakers. That included those in Wicklow, then west Cork, before travelling up to a producer in Clare, and then visiting Galway and Cavan.

"Many small producers in the Republic are being squeezed out and each had an amazing story to tell about how they started, and why they make the kind of cheese they do.

"When I was over in England, there was a big network of cheesemakers - something like that would be great here."

And Mr Thomson is leaving it up to customers to decide how much they want to pay for the tasting sessions - which run throughout this week.

"Each night we are focusing on different cheeses, and pairing them with local beers - there will also be a chance to buy cheese at the end of the evening.

"It's pay what you think it's worth. That's because it's a bit of a new idea, and we are trying gauge what the public thinks," he said.

"We are keeping things democratic, and people can pay what they want for this experience."

Mr Thomson is the only producer of his kind in Northern Ireland - making cheese in the same vein as the best known English and French cheeses - using raw, unpasteurised milk.

For more information on the cheese tasting sessions or to book your place, visit Mike Thomson's Twitter page at @fancycheeseco

Belfast Telegraph