With all its lush farmland, it should come as no surprise that County Meath produces great dairy foods, and an outstanding example to look out for is Kilbeg Dairies range, which is made by Kieran and Jane Cassidy on their farm near Kells.
Using wonderful buttery coloured milk supplied by local farmers, they make a sophisticated range of products - including soft cream cheese, crème fraiche, fromage frais, quark, sour cream, Greek style yogurt, fruit flabvoured yoghurts and mascarpone cheese - most of which are available in fat-free versions, as well as the original gorgeously creamy products.
The recipes for each product are developed from scratch, starting with an idea of the flavour and texture they want to achieve for each product - and they compare the tasting process to tasting a fine wine. " We look for a full-bodied rounded flavour and texture with malty undertones. Our fruit drinks are fresh and jesty and explode with the fruit flavour!"
The Kilbeg range is very popular with chefs - Kevin Dundon and Neven Maguire both love it for its flavour and texture, and renowned Slane patissier George Heise uses their cream cheese in his more-ish cheesecakes. Very conscious of their products’ many uses in cooking, Kieran and Jane run a recipe service on their website, and encourage customers to send in their suggestions.
Unsurprisingly these great tasting products have attracted a lot of praise, including success at the Great Taste Award since 2007 – one of the recent successes was at the World Cheese Awards 2012, where the soft cream cheese took silver.
Kilbeg Dairies is a founding member of the Meath Food Trail, and welcomes visitors by appointment.